Arthritis (also called osteoarthritis) is a degenerative condition that occurs when the surfaces of joints become worn and degraded, resulting in increased friction between the bones of the joint as well as symptoms like pain, stiffness, swelling, loss of flexibility and decreased range of motion. Millions of people suffer from arthritis, and it can develop in any joint in the body. When it occurs in the back, neck and shoulders, it can cause widespread symptoms that can interfere with daily activities and result in significant disability. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, followed by rheumatoid arthritis, which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue.
Cervical spondylosis is an arthritic condition that occurs in the bones of the neck (the cervical vertebrae). Cervical spondylosis is associated with symptoms like neck pain, arm and shoulder pain, weakness in the arms and hands, and changes in sensation in these areas.
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that develops as a result of the aging process when cartilage becomes weaker and more prone to wear and tear. In degenerative disc disease, the cartilage lining the facet joints (the joints that interlock the vertebrae) begins to wear away, resulting in an increase in friction in the back and symptoms like local and diffuse pain.
Most patients with arthritis in the spine can benefit from conservative approaches to treatment including rest, physical therapy, oral pain and anti-inflammatory medications, and injections into the space around the affected portion of the spine to relieve both pain and swelling while also promoting a greater range of motion. When conservative treatment options don't provide long-term relief from symptoms, surgery may be considered to remove damaged portions of the vertebrae, to fuse the spine and reduce painful friction, or to remove bone spurs that often develop in people with spinal arthritis.
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