FAQs on Arthritis Treatment for Spine and Extremities in Las Vegas NV

Many forms of arthritis affect the spine and extremities. Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis, typically affecting people aged 50 years and older. This condition is associated with joint cartilage breakdown and erosion. The tiny facet joints of the spine often lose cartilage, causing flexibility and mobility issues.

What causes arthritis of the spine and joints?

Degenerative arthritis occurs in the spine when facet joints lose their smooth cartilage covering. This is the result of wear-and-tear and bone loss. In addition, bone spurs and osteophytes protrude into the spinal canal, impinging on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Osteoarthritis of the joints occurs from injury and aging, where joint cartilage breaks down and erodes. With rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the joint structures and leads to deformities and painful joints.

How many people are affected by arthritis of the joints and spine?

Based on recent statistics, approximately 20 percent of U.S. adults have some type of doctor-diagnosed arthritis. In addition, 1.3 million U.S. citizens have rheumatoid arthritis, and 1 million are affected with spondylarthritides.

What symptoms are associated with arthritis of the spine and extremities?

Spinal arthritis causes back pain, leg weakness, radiating pain to the buttocks and leg, and numbness/tingling of one or both lower extremities. This form of arthritis also decreases spine flexibility and motion. Arthritis of the joints causes pain, decreased range of motion, and stiffness.

Who is at risk for arthritis?

Certain people are at risk for arthritis. Risk factors include:

  • Female gender
  • Advancing age
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Abnormal joint alignment
  • Constant or repetitive joint use
  • History of joint surgery
  • Having joint surgery
  • Constant joint use
  • Abnormal joint alignment

What are the treatment options for arthritis?

The pain management specialist develops a treatment plan based on severity of the condition, the health of the patient, and the site affected. Treatment options include:

  • Medications – Topical agents are useful for joint pain, such as capsaicin, camphor, and menthol. Certain types of arthritis respond well to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ketoprofen and naproxen. For severe pain, the doctor can prescribe opioid analgesics.

 

  • Physical therapy – To improve muscle strength, increase range of motion, and enhance flexibility of the spine or a joint, the pain specialist may order physical therapy. The therapist can use certain techniques to alleviate pain, such as heat/cold therapy, massage, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.

 

  • Facet joint injection (FJI) – The doctor can inject one or more facet joints with a corticosteroid and/or a long-acting anesthetic. The needle is inserted into the joint(s) using x-ray guidance for correct placement. According to recent clinical research studies, this procedure has an 85% efficacy rate.

 

  • Epidural steroid injection (ESI) – The epidural space likes just outside the spinal cord. Using x-ray guidance, the doctor inserts a needle into this space, and instills a corticosteroid substance, with or without an anesthetic. A recent clinical study reported an 80-90% success rate with ESI for back pain.

 

  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint injection – The SI joint is at the very low back region. When this joint is painful from arthritis, the doctor can inject a steroid agent and anesthetic using x-ray guidance. A recent clinical study reported this procedure to have a 70% efficacy rate.

 

  • Joint injections – For arthritis of the knee, the doctor may inject hyaluronic acid, which replaces lost synovial fluid. Corticosteroid injections often are injected into the joint spaces to reduce inflammation and pain.

Resources

Liliang PC, Lu K, Weng HC, Liang CL, Tsai YD, & Chen HJ (2009). The therapeutic efficacy of sacroiliac joint blocks with triamcinolone acetonide in the treatment of sacroiliac joint dysfunction without spondyloarthropathy. Spine, 34(9), 896-900.

McLain RF, Kapural L, & Mekhail NA (2005). Epidural steroid therapy for back and leg pain: mechanism of action and efficacy. Spine Journal, 5, 191-201.

Riew KD, Park JB, Cho YS, et al. (2006). Nerve root blocks in the treatment of lumbar radicular pain. A minimum five-year follow-up. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 88(8), 1722-1725.