The term arthritis refers to inflammation of a joint anywhere in the body, including the spine. The condition may result from, or be associated with, various disorders including infection, degenerative disease, metabolic disturbance and tumors. Types of arthritis include ankylosing rheumatoid spondylitis, a chronic progressive disease that usually affects the spine and adjacent structures.
Osteoarthritis affects mostly the weight bearing joints, but also others such as the facet joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, which can sometimes produce crippling deformities. Osteoarthritis related degenerative changes in the spinal bones and joints, which are common among people over forty, are known as spondylosis.
The prefix spondyl means vertebra. They can result in an abnormal curvature of the thoracic chest spine in older people, a condition known as kyphosis. For accurate diagnosis, x-rays are required. Treatments include rest immobilization, pain relieving and anti inflammatory medication, followed by graduated exercise and postural training by a physiotherapist.
Surgery is necessary only in extreme cases. What is spondylolisthesis? In this condition, one vertebra slips forward or subluxates on top of another. This movement narrows the spinal canal through which the spinal cord passes. Although it can occur anywhere along the spine, it most frequently involves the slipping of the bottom lumbar vertebra over the sacrum.
Spondylolisthesis may be the result of trauma, a spinal fracture or arthritis. Its symptoms include mild low back pain, muscle spasm and sciatica, or it may produce no symptoms whatsoever. Practicing good postural habits and strengthening the muscles of the trunk are good preventive measure to take.
Normal disc is the inner soft core is held within the tough, fibrous outer shell. Bulging disc with aging small tears may occur in the outer shell or annulus fibrosus, allowing the inner core or nucleus pulposus to bulge. Herniated or prolapsed disc is when tears in the outer shell increase in size or number, the inner core may spill into the surrounding area and impinge on an adjacent nerve, causing both inflammation and pain.