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Is It Arthritis?

Updated on July 1, 2013

The word "Arthritis" is used to describe over 100 different diseases, while the meaning of arthritis is actually "joint inflammation." Did you know that an inflammation is a way for your body to tell you something is wrong, like an injury or a disease? The signs of inflammation can be pain, swelling and even stiffness, if you have an inflammation it can cause tissue damage if it lasts a long time or returns frequently. A joint is where two or more bones come together; the bones in the joint are covered by a substance called cartilage that allows joints to move pain-free. The joint is also lined with a thin membrane called synovium which will produce a slippery fluid that helps reduce friction in your joints.

One of the most common forms of arthritis is osteoarthritis; the most common symptoms are swollen and "creaky" joints. There are several different types of osteoarthritis, hand, foot, ankle, elbow, hip, knees, shoulder and spine. Scoliosis is most often discovered in childhood and is one of the early indicators of possible spinal osteoarthritis later in life. Since muscles and ligaments in the back are what allow mobility; the vertebrae connect to the spinal column which also helps provide support and all these areas would be affected by the spinal osteoarthritis making it difficult to maneuver and function normally.

Osteoarthritis can cause a loss of cartilage this can cause what is called bone overgrowth, which can turn into a painful condition called bone spurs. Bone spurs can cause the bones to rub together making the joints move less freely and causing pain. There are different names for the upper and lower back areas when it comes to arthritis. With cervical arthritis not only will it affect the upper back region, but also the neck while lower back arthritis is called lumbosacral arthritis. There are several early warning signs for spinal arthritis among them are numbness, pain that comes and goes, stiffness upon waking, and pain that emanates from the lower back that also transfers into hips, thighs or pelvic area.

Weakness or numbness in your legs or arms is yet another sign. Is your range of motion limited? Do you have any difficulty walking or bending down to pick something up? All of these are early warning signs of possible arthritis in your back, there is no cure for arthritis but there are a variety of ways to help maintain your lifestyle and manage pain. You and your doctor will be able to come up with a solid plan and make your life as comfortable and "normal" as possible.

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