According to the National Institute of Health, more than 27 million Americans over the age of 25 have a form of osteoarthritis. This often debilitating disease, also known as wear-and-tear arthritis, is associated with a variety of symptoms including pain, limited range of motion and bone and tissue deterioration. Osteoarthritis, particularly osteoarthritis of the spine, is especially common in people as they age, particularly in women because of the hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation, childbirth, and menopause. Even though certain risk factors like age and gender cannot be helped, it is possible to delay or even prevent the onset of osteoarthritis of the spine by managing these conditions.
Carrying extra weight puts additional pressure on all of the joints in your body, including your spine. This additional pressure over prolonged periods of time can result in disc degeneration, bone spurs, muscle and tendon weakness, and accumulation of fluid in the joints, all characteristics of osteoarthritis. Losing even 10 percent of your body weight can have a dramatic impact on the amount of pain, limited range of motion, and joint damage you experience.
By now most people understand the impact smoking has on their lungs. What they may not realize is that smoking also has a destructive effect on the cartilage throughout your body. Not only does it prevent the body from repairing any tears in cartilage, but it also raises toxin levels in the blood contributing to its loss. Since cartilage and other connective tissues play a vital protective role in spine health, it’s no wonder smokers are more likely to have osteoarthritis in the spine.
Injury or Overuse
Like it or not, the things you put your body through leave a lasting impact. If your job, hobby or lifestyle requires repetitive stress on your spine, you could develop osteoarthritis. Careers that require standing for long periods of time, bending or heavy lifting can cause joints to deteriorate quickly. If your job requires a repetitive motion, including looking at a computer screen, it is important to take scheduled breaks, use ergonomic lifting procedures and report any injuries to your workplace as soon as they happen.
If overuse is one end of the spectrum, a sedentary lifestyle is the other. Both are bad for the joints in your spine and have been shown to contribute to osteoarthritis symptoms. Fortunately, this risk factor is one of the easiest to change. Exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day, three times a week has been shown to strengthen joints, improve range of motion and increase blood flow. Walking, swimming, yoga, and strength training are all great ways to shed weight and protect your joints.
To find out more about osteoarthritis of the spine, call or schedule your appointment online with us at Capital City Neurosurgery today.