Osteoarthritis is one of the most common diagnoses our patients have and is the most common joint disorder in the United States. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions your joints starts to thin and break down. Eventually, there is very little cartilage left in the joint and the bones begin to rub together. It can affect any joint in your body. The most common joints we treat for are the hip, shoulder, knee and facet joints (small joints in your spine). When osteoarthritis occurs in the spine it is known as spondylosis. The number of people affected by osteoarthritis and spondylosis is likely to increase in coming years due to the aging of the population and the obesity epidemic.

Risk factors

The most common reason osteoarthritis occurs is simply wear-and-tear from daily life. The older we get the more likely we are to experience it. Being overweight increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis at any age. The larger joints in our body have to carry the extra weight and that can cause the cartilage to break down faster than in a normal weight person.

Spondylosis

There are multiple types of spondylosis and they correspond to the region of the spine that it occurs in:

  • Cervical Spondylosis: occurs in the cervical spine, which is your neck. More than 85% of people over the age of 60 experience this type of spondylosis.
  • Thoracic Spondylosis: occurs in the thoracic spine, the upper and middle part of your back.
  • Lumbar Spondylosis: occurs in the lumbar spine, the lower part of your back.

Treatment

We most commonly treat osteoarthritis with steroid injections into the joint space. This can help cut down on the inflammation enough to allow you to move the joint again, which should significantly reduce pain.

In the case of spondylosis, there are several interventional procedures we perform that can offer relief. Steroid Injections and Radio Frequency Ablations are the most common ones we perform in our office.

Newer treatments options we perform involve injecting Platelet Rich Plasma or Stem Cells directly into the joint space. These are newer types of treatment that haven’t been around long enough to be as well studied as steroid injections. Individual results vary but many of our patients have had great outcomes.

Osteoarthritis in the spine is known as spondylosis.