Arthritis affects 1 in 4 Americans, and that number will likely increase to 1 in 2 Americans by 2040 (1). Spine arthritis is very common, and up to a shocking 85% of people with chronic lower back pain may actually have arthritis (1). These numbers are quite concerning given that conventional medicine does not have many viable treatments that are effective long-term (2). This has created a need for spinal arthritis relief and many people are finding it through regenerative therapies.
How does arthritis develop in the spine? What causes it?
Spine arthritis is inflammation and/or degeneration of the joints anywhere along the spine, and it can affect where the ligaments and tendons meet the bone (3). It occurs most commonly in the upper or lower spine (neck or low back) but can develop anywhere along the spinal vertebrae (3).
Research is still being done to determine all of the reasons that arthritis may develop. The most common type of arthritis that affects the spine is osteoarthritis, which is thought to be caused by injuries or wear and tear over time (3). Some people have autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which cause the body to attack specific tissues in joints (3). Other people experience different types of spondylitis, which can develop in tandem with conditions such as psoriasis or inflammatory bowel disease (3). Another category is called undifferentiated spondyloarthritis, in which symptoms don’t match any specific type of arthritis, but the pain and damage are very clearly arthritis-related (3). For patients whose arthritis isn’t obviously tied to an injury or autoimmune disease, we will look at past infections, other existing disorders, genetics, and age.
What are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis?
Interestingly, a number of people with arthritis may not have any symptoms, especially if they have arthritis in their neck. For those that do experience symptoms, pain and stiffness are most often reported. Other common symptoms include (3):
Loss of flexibility or mobility
A feeling of “grinding” between bones when moving the spine
Pain, tenderness, swelling, or stiffness in other joints
What is regenerative medicine, and how can it help?
Regenerative medicine seeks