If your back hurts during movement and pain even radiates into the legs, this may indicate osteoarthritis of the spine. This condition of the small vertebral joints (facet joints) is also known as facet syndrome, osteoarthritis of the facet joints, and osteoarthritis of the vertebral joints. It’s a degenerative progression, meaning the wear of the bone structure can no longer be reversed and the damage caused is permanent. However, the progression of the condition can be positively influenced to make pain alleviation as effective as possible.
What is osteoarthritis of the spine?
Like all kinds of osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis of the spine describes wear of the joint cartilage. The cartilage areas of the vertebral joints are subjected to immense strain. With advancing age, the ability of the cartilage to regenerate decreases, resulting in the reduction of the distance between the vertebrae. As a consequence, back mobility is impaired and those affected suffer from severe pain. Bone spurs (spondylophytes) then develop on the edges of the vertebral bodies during this pathological process. If they meet at some stage, they create new, bony connections between the vertebral bodies. This leads to the spine changing shape and eventually beginning to stiffen. Unharmonious interaction of the joints changes the position of individual vertebrae, and patients suffer from severe pain.
When a physician refers to the condition as spondylosis (spondylosis deformans), it’s an umbrella term for a range of degenerative conditions of the spine. This means that other conditions may also exist and the osteoarthritis is a part of a complex illness.
What are the known causes for osteoarthritis of the spine?
Osteoarthritis of the spine is a typical sign of aging, but it can also affect younger patients.
Typical causes of facet syndrome include:
- Intervertebral disk prolapses
- Inflammatory diseases of the back
- Misalignments (hollow back)
- Weak muscles
Obesity and a lack of movement are risk factors, too.
The latter is one of the most common causes of back pain. Those who sit a lot and move little, put one-sided strain on the spine. Additionally, the muscles that stabilize the spine lose their required strength.
If back pain then occurs as well, many will tend to adopt a posture to help relieve pain. But the spine needs wide-ranging exertion to stay healthy – at least if you’re not suffering from an acute condition. Patients fall into a vicious cycle of pain and lack of movement, which, in turn, promotes the development of osteoarthritis of the spine.
Wer viel sitzt und sich wenig bewegt, belastet die Wirbelsäule einseitig. Zudem verlieren die Muskeln, die die Wirbelsäule stabilisieren, die erforderliche Stärke.
Osteoarthritis of the spine: symptoms and consequences
Osteoarthritis of the spine can occur in all areas of the spine. In most cases, it is the lumbar spine that is affected because this area is subjected to particular strain owing to its shape.
The most common symptoms include:
- Dull pain in the affected area of the back
- Limited mobility
- Pain radiating into the legs
- Muscular tension
- Pain during movement
The first signs of osteoarthritis of the vertebral joints are localized pain. This pain increases with strain, and decreases when relieved. This often results in tension of the surrounding muscles which, in turn, can lead to blockages, thus additionally worsening the symptoms. The stabilizing ligaments cannot prevent the vertebrae from shifting position. As a result of osteoarthritis of the spine, the ligaments are subjected to strain that ranges from extreme to excessive.
Treating osteoarthritis of the spine
There are numerous treatment options so the chances to be free from pain are good. The earlier patients are treated by a physician, the quicker the measures can take effect and positively influence the progression of the condition.
The main goal is to heal inflammation and to prevent risk factors or aspects that intensify the condition, such as inappropriate mechanical stress, being overweight, and weak muscles. The focus is on active treatment with physiotherapy. The muscles need to be developed and mobility promoted.
An active lifestyle with a lot of exerciseis crucial for the smooth functioning of all joints. Diet also plays an important part. By wearing an orthosis, patients can alleviate pain and benefit from better stabilization of the spine. Pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs can also be used for facet syndrome.
Orthoses as active supports in treating osteoarthritis of the spine
When treating osteoarthritis of the spine, the primary objective is to relieve the affected areas and to alleviate pain.
The LumboLoc back orthosis has proven effective for mild problems with the lumbar spine. It compensates for weak muscles in the lumbar area (lumbar spine) and provides relief as well as stabilization. At the rear, it supports the back with preshaped corset stays, while exerting individually adjustable pressure on the abdominal area at the front. This supports the weak muscles in the back and abdominal areas. The straightening stays of the orthosis can be adjusted to the body shape and requirements. In this way, the LumboLocrelieves tension that may otherwise be caused by postures to help relieve pain.
Bei starken Schmerzen ist hingegen zur festeren Orthese wie der Spinova Unload Classic zu raten, da sie eine stärkere Entlastung und Stabilisierung bieten. Hintergrund ist, dass bei starken Schmerzen nicht nur der lokal erkrankte Bereich betroffen ist, sondern es auch in angrenzenden Arealen zu Verspannungen und Schmerzen kommt. Die Spinova Unload Classic besitzt im hinteren Bereich bewegliche Querelemente, die den betroffenen Wirbelsäulenabschnitt unterstützen, besonders die Facettengelenke. Zusätzlich stabilisiert ihre Stützbandage mit integrierten Korsettstäben den Rumpf und übt den erforderlichen Druck auf den Bauchraum aus. Die Stärke des Drucks ist mittels Zuggurten dosierbar und damit individuell einstellbar. Die Orthese ist in Modulen aufgebaut und kann dadurch während des gesamten Krankheitsverlaufs getragen werden - vom anfänglichen Stabilisieren hin zum späteren Mobilisieren. Jede Orthese muss vor dem ersten Tragen von einem Orthopädietechniker angepasst werden, um passenden Sitz und optimale Unterstützung zu garantieren.