Osteoarthritis is another of the common structural lumbar conditions often blamed for causing sciatica symptoms. Arthritis is a normal part of aging and is typically demonstrated in the spine by middle age, especially in the lumbar and cervical regions.
Since arthritis is almost universal and one of the more commonly cited symptom generators, this article will help clarify the condition and help patients to better understand how degenerative changes in the vertebral column may be responsible for some or all of their radicular pain.
Arthritis represents an entire category of bone disorders, some varieties of which are very nasty indeed. The osteo form is not inherently painful, but certainly does have the potential to create symptoms of all severities, given inauspicious circumstances.
Arthritis is a degenerative process which affects the joints of the body, and in this case, the spine. Typical arthritic changes to the spine include bone spur growth around the vertebral bodies and facet joints. These bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are usually the source of blame when it comes to back, neck and sciatica pain. Most commonly, they are said to produce increased bone on bone contact and other times are said to compress spinal nerve roots in the neuroforaminal openings or central canal. Both of these processes can be further exacerbated by general arthritic debris which can also accumulate in the foraminal or central canal spaces.
Facet joint syndrome is another common back pain diagnosis related to the arthritic processes. This is usually a combination of mechanical and neurological pain conditions, involving interaction on the facet joints upon movement.
Being that osteoarthritis is a progressive condition, the symptomology should worsen as a patient ages. However, this is not usually the case. Most highly symptomatic forms of spinal arthritis are diagnosed in patients between the ages of 40 and 55. These are certainly not the prime years for arthritic change, but are the years of the most responsibility and stress. This fact is very supportive of a mindbody contributor to pain in some patients.
Most older patients do not suffer serious arthritic back or neck pain, despite having far more advanced cases of spinal degeneration. Of course, there are exceptions to this and every rule.
Mechanical pain associated with the osteo form of arthritis is generally dull, achy and activity or weather dependent. It is not typically acute and severe, although many times the arthritic process is mistakenly blamed for acute pain when there is no better spinal scapegoat available.
If true foraminal or spinal stenosis are created by the arthritic processes, chronic pain and neurological dysfunction can occur. These are the circumstance which can satisfactorily explain sciatica symptoms. Read more about sciatica from arthritis.
I have just recently noticed the first signs of arthritis in my body. I have endured a lifetime of injuries due to my active participation in martial arts for decades. Despite the small aches and pains which come on occasionally, I do not expect to suffer any real problems from spinal arthritis, since I am already knowledgeable about the clinical profile of the condition. This knowledge eliminates the fear and negates the nocebo factor long before it has a chance to take hold and do any damage.
Arthritis is one of the most actively treated conditions in the entire medical sector and is especially focused upon by the pharmaceutical industry. Drug therapy is the most common treatment approach and most patients continue to take powerful and risky medications for the long term. Arthritis is big business within the back pain industry. Best of all, it is universal and will be found in virtually every patient over the age of 50, as well as in many far younger.
Before you buy into the diagnosis, be sure to research the facts for yourself. You will find that arthritis is sometimes a real concern, but is generally nothing more than another spinal abnormality mistakenly blamed for causing lower back and leg pain in the vast majority of diagnosed sciatica patients.
Of course, if your neurologist confirms definitive nerve root or cauda equina compression in the lower back, or spinal cord compression anywhere in the vertebral column, then the arthritic processes may just be the actual source of your pain.
In these scenarios, treatment may be best rendered using minimally invasive surgical modalities. This is one of the few instances where spinal surgery may not only be needed, but also stands a far chance of proving successful long-term.