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vertebral osteoarthritis

Spine Conditions 101: Vertebral Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a disease characterized by the wear and tear of bones and soft tissues and any joint in the body can be affected by osteoarthritis. When osteoarthritis affects the vertebrae of the spine, the condition is referred to as vertebral osteoarthritis. Vertebral osteoarthritis may present in various stages that may or may not produce symptoms.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, our awarded Orthopedic Spine Specialists have  5 locations throughout Fairfield County, CT and are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of spine conditions.


Description and Symptoms of Vertebral Osteoarthritis

 The cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine are those that are most often affected by osteoarthritis. The early stages of osteoarthritis typically only cause mild inflammation of the joints. Moderate to severe stages cause inflammation, swelling, and bone or soft tissue loss. The most severe stage of osteoarthritis involves almost complete loss of connective soft tissue resulting in bone on bone contact that leads to loss of motion and pain.
The most common symptom of vertebral osteoarthritis is neck or lower back pain. Other symptoms that may present include the following:


-Decreased range of motion

-Pain with movement

-Extremity weakness, numbness, tingling (due to adjacent nerve injury)

In some cases, osteoarthritis that affects the lumbar region may cause sciatica a term meaning a condition characterized by a shooting pain that runs from the buttocks to the back of the thighs and possibly the legs. In order to properly treat vertebral osteoarthritis, an orthopedic spine specialist must first officially diagnose the condition and determine its cause. A specific diagnosis will lead the spine specialist to create an individualized treatment plan.


Causes of Vertebral Osteoarthritis

 The most common cause of vertebral osteoarthritis is age. Factors that may put a patient at an increased risk to develop osteoarthritis include the following:





Some medical conditions may also cause osteoarthritis or speed up its progression. This is something that is best discussed with an orthopedic spine specialist.

Trauma due to accident or injury may also cause osteoarthritis. Many patients who develop osteoarthritis early in life are those that experienced a sports injury or fractured bone.

Treatments for Vertebral Osteoarthritis

Early detection of vertebral osteoarthritis is very important. Patients who see an Orthopedic Spine Specialist as soon as they are experiencing symptoms can expect symptom relief. They can also expect the progression of the disease to be slowed down drastically. Most commonly, an Orthopedic Spine Specialist prescribes a combination of the following initial treatment options to treat vertebral osteoarthritis:

-Activity modification

-Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications

-Pain medications

-Physical therapy

-Interventional Procedures (including steroid injections)

Vertebral osteoarthritis that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment options may require surgical intervention. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is a new and extremely effective surgical treatment option that reduces or eliminates symptoms in a very short period of time. Some of the most commonly performed MISS procedures include the following:

– Direct or indirect spinal decompression

– Laminectomy

-Spinal fusion

The benefits of MISS include less surgical time, less postoperative pain, a shorter recovery, and a small incision/less noticeable scar.


Contacting a Specialist for Vertebral Osteoarthritis

If you are experiencing the symptoms of vertebral osteoarthritis and are looking for a treatment solution, please contact one of our 5 Fairfield County offices today to make an appointment with one of our Spine Specialists. Once an official diagnosis is made, a customized treatment plan will be prescribed. You can expect results when you choose The OSM Center.