Arthritis is a painful and debilitating disorder characterized by inflammation in the joints of the body. While there are over one hundred types of arthritis, the most common form is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is mainly experienced in the weight bearing bones of the back, neck, and spine. Mechanical stress on the joints of the spine is a major cause of osteoarthritis.
What is Mechanical Stress?
The spine is a load bearing structure. The type of stress that can lead to osteoarthritis is known as mechanical stress, which is caused by an atypical loading in the back, neck, and spine. This phenomenon is usually caused by abnormal posture or trauma to these areas.
Eventually, the bones of the spine are forced to remodel to accommodate this abnormal loading and stress. This involves a process in which bone cells known as osteoblasts are activated to reproduce and build additional bone. The end result are bone spurs that form in the spine and weight-bearing joints.
Some cases of osteoarthritis in the spine involve compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots because of inflammation that causes the spinal canal to narrow.