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spine osteoarthritis what you need to know

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease affecting an estimated 27 million Americans. This disease is caused by the deterioration of cartilage. This is the smooth, elastic tissue that protects joints and provides the lubrication necessary for normal joint function.

Osteoarthritis can affect different joints in the body, such as those in the:

hands
knees
hips
spine
OA of the spine specifically affects the facet joints, the cartilage between the bones that make up the spine, and the ligaments in the spine.

As you age, the cartilage coating the facet joints can slowly wear away. Your invertebral discs are made primarily of water. These discs can dehydrate as you grow older. This can cause the discs in your spine to narrow and put increased pressure on facet joints.

OA of the spine causes various symptoms. The most common is back pain. Pain often starts in the lower back. In the early stages of the disease, you may only have pain in the mornings due to hours of inactivity. Since this is a progressive disease, symptoms typically worsen over time. Other symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine include:

joint tenderness
joint stiffness
limited range of motion
weakness or numbness in the legs or arms, tingling in the legs
Back pain caused by OA of the spine is often worse when sitting upright or standing. It usually improves when lying down. Some people who have osteoarthritis of the spine don’t have any symptoms.