Back pain is considered a major problem in the Western societies which causes too much distress, suffering to individuals as well as their families. The rate of prevalence in the studies conducted ranges from twelve percent to thirty-five percent and ten percent of these sufferers become chronically disabled. This have place huge economic burden in the society, about €12 billion per year is the estimated total cost incurred in UK which includes disability benefits, lost production, insurance and direct medical cost (Pain 2000)
There are various causes of back pain and one of the most common is degenerative spine or degenerative arthritis. What is Degenerative Arthritis? Degenerative arthritis popularly known as osteoarthritis is a kind of arthritis that is caused by inflammation, collapse and finally loss of the cartilage of the joints. There are different kinds of arthritis and osteoarthritis is the most common of all. Osteoarthritis a degenerative joint disease is a condition where the protective cartilage wears down and as a result it brings pain and stiffness, This might also lead to another condition called osteophytes.
What is degenerative arthritis of the spine? Osteoarthritis of the spine is the wearing down of cartilage in the neck and lower back part of the body. If the damage affects the discs in the spine and facet joints then this condition is called spinal spondylosis.
Who are mostly affected by this condition? Generally osteoarthritis of the spine mostly affects people who are advance in age however it may strike anyone at younger age given the following factors or causes – genetic defect which involves the cartilage, trauma or injury of the joint and when the joint lose its proper formation.
Arthritis in the spine is most common to men who are under 45 years old while common to women after age 45. But this condition is most common too to people who are overweight as well as to people whose jobs puts so much stress on certain joints. Degenerative spine is irreversible but there are ways to manage the condition to slow down its progress.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine
Marked physical effects include pain or stiffness in the back or neck which can spread out to other parts of the body, may also cause numbness and weakness in the arms or legs, and of course depression. Some people still can go on with their daily activities but for some it interferes with their day to day work which just makes them depress and frustrated.
Treatment of osteoarthritis of the spine
Most often treatment is focus towards relieving the symptoms and increasing joint’s mobility. Conventional treatments may include the following;
Weight Management. If you are overweight then losing weight should be your focus and for the rest who are not overweight should try to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise. Some good exercise for osteoarthritis individuals are walking, water aerobics and swimming. This promotes flexibility, strengthens the heart, improves blood circulation, improves mood and attitude and makes it easier for you do your daily task.
Exercise is further categorized into three and that is strengthening exercise which helps to strengthen body muscles to support the joints, Range of motion exercise which increase the body’s flexibility thus preventing the muscles in getting weak and the last is aerobic exercise which helps the heart and circulatory system stronger.
Therapy Treatments. There are non-drug treatments for osteoarthritis which includes acupuncture, massage, Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, hot or cold compresses, right diet and nutritional supplements.
Medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers like paracetamol, non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, prescription drugs like analgesics, injections of corticosteoids and topical ointments applied to the affected area to ease the pain.
Surgery. In cases where the condition is too severe that it affects the bowel and bladder function already and the nervous system is also affected then it is time to go in and see your doctor and discuss with him the possibility of surgery.