Understanding the problem
Arthritis of the spine, also known as spinal osteoarthritis, is a common condition in which the protective cartilage in the spine’s joints wear down over time. Cartilage allows the bones within the joints to glide over each other, and when it’s degraded, the bones can begin to grind together.
Understanding who suffers
It is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans experience various forms of arthritis. Arthritis is also a contributing factor to many physical disabilities. In the United States, approximately 90 % of people 55 years of age and older deal with some form of arthritis, and it is estimated that by the year 2020, more than 60 million people will have some form of arthritis.
Usually spinal arthritis occurs in people over the age of 50, and women are more likely than men to develop the condition.
Potential Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of spinal arthritis can vary from patient to patient. Some symptoms may be as mild as occasional throbbing or tingling, or as severe as deformities of the spine.
Osteoarthritis of the spine, is a degenerative form of spinal arthritis, meaning that the cartilage of the facet joints begins to degrade and break down. When this happens, bone spurs (osteophytes) can form because the body attempts to strengthen the spine by growing extra pieces of bone. Bone spurs can exert painful pressure on nerve roots or the spinal cord. Symptoms of spinal arthritis in this form include:
- Limited range of motion
- Radiating pain, numbness, and weakness (radiculopathy)
- Diminished flexibility
- A “crunching” feeling, which is bone rubbing on bone because the protective cartilage layer on the joint has disintegrated
- Stiffness, especially after reclining or sitting down for a period of time
- Bone spurs
Spinal rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own cells attack and destroy the synovial membrane on joints. The synovial membrane, or synovium, is responsible for keeping joints lubricated and working smoothly. Rheumatoid arthritis will present itself as inflammation of the facet joints, rather than degradation of the facet joints. Symptoms of spinal arthritis in this form include:
- Pain that may feel warm
- A gradual change in the shape of the spine (and eventual deformities)
- Swelling and puffiness
- Tenderness to the touch
Examinations Usually Required
An accurate diagnosis of spinal arthritis is a complex task. There are many types of arthritis as well as a multitude of other diseases and injuries that can cause spinal symptoms. When gathering a medical history, physicians usually inquire about the severity of symptoms in relation to the types of activities performed, when most symptoms occur, what makes symptoms better and worse, and what treatments have been tried.
Physicians should perform a back examination, including performing a series of exercises to test flexibility and range of motion. Then they might run a series of tests such as blood work, MRI, X-ray, CT scan or bone scan in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
Proposing Treatment and Why AIMIS
If symptoms of sciatica do not improve after several weeks or months of conservative sciatica treatment, surgery might be suggested as the next step. The type of surgery required will depend on the underlying cause of the sciatica and the location of the sciatic nerve compression.
The goal of surgical treatment is to access the spine and take pressure off of the affected nerve. Treatment options depend on the location and severity of the injury.
AIMIS provides various surgical options depending on an individual’s problem and include:
- Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery,
- Minimally Invasive Stabilization Surgery,
- Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery,
- Total Disk Replacement (TDR),
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion,
- Decompressor Discectomy,
- Lumbar Disc Microsurgery Treatment
Why minimally invasive spine surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to treat spine problems with less injury to the muscles and other normal structures in the spine. It also assists the surgeon to see where the problem exists in the spine. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), does not involve a long incision as is open surgery which helps to avoid damage to the muscles surrounding the spine. In most cases, this results in less pain after surgery and a significant faster recovery.
Spine surgery is normally recommended once a period of nonsurgical treatment likely including medications and physical therapy has not provided pain relief caused by the back problem. Surgery is considered when the source of your pain and underlying cause can be identified and surgical procedure proposed. Minimally invasive techniques today are common and being used for a wide range of spine procedures.
Benefits of minimal invasive spine surgery include:
- Small incisions
- Less pain. Often less pain than open procedures because less of the natural anatomy is disrupted
- Shorter Hospital stay
- Quicker return to daily activities
- Lower infection and complication rate
- Less blood loss. Smaller incisions also mean less blood loss, which can ultimately improve outcomes.
Minimally invasive procedures take a surgery that could be a dramatic event and makes it have less of an impact!
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Reputable and Prestigious Surgeons
AIMIS' skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment
Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
You may have questions like:
- Can I get more information before I commit to this?
- Can I get a second opinion from you before I commit to this?
- How can I find out the cost before I have any obligation?
What AIMIS Can do:
AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide. AIMIS’s mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.
AIMIS provide competitive prices for state of the art procedures. We also work with a large range of Insurance companies where your policy allows you to have surgery abroad.
Further information on the problem:
There are many types of arthritis that fall under the generic umbrella. When patients experience arthritis of the spine, the specific underlying condition is generally osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is defined as the degeneration of joint cartilage as well as the surrounding bones. It is most commonly seen in individuals who have reached middle age or older, and it can cause pain and stiffness in any of the joints throughout the body - although the most commonly affected areas include the hips, knees and hands. In the spine, this arthritis develops as the cartilage between adjacent vertebrae wears away. Once the friction-reducing cartilage has been diminished or eliminated, the vertebral bones begin to grind against one another when they move. The body may address this issue by growing bone spurs, but the spurs can cause problems of their own, potentially impinging on the spinal cord or surrounding nerve roots.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a less commonly occurring type of spinal arthritis, but it is no less disruptive. This type of arthritis is a chronic and progressive autoimmune disease characterized by inflamed joints that can become deformed and even limit mobility. It is most often seen in the fingers, wrists, ankles and feet, but it can also occur in the facet joints of the spine. In these cases, rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and swelling at the site of the joint, as well as other symptoms it shares with osteoarthritis.
Both of these arthritis types can occur at any level of the spine - cervical, thoracic or lumbar - but it should be noted that the most common site for spinal arthritis is the lumbar or lower spine.
Further Information on Increased Risk Groups
The most common risks for developing arthritis of the spine include:
- Age - People 50 or older are more likely to develop arthritis of the spine.
- Overused joints - This may occur through repetitive lifting, bending or twisting, as well as constantly slouching while seated at a desk or driving.
- Injury or trauma to bones - Whiplash, compression fracture or other kinds of injuries can hasten the degradation of joints.
- Obesity - Excess body weight places more stress on the joints.
- Genetics - Inherited traits can make you more likely to develop arthritis.
- Gender - Women are twice as likely to develop arthritis.
- Other conditions - Decreased blood supply, chronic illness, infection or a diminished immune system can contribute to joint degradation; smoking and excessive alcohol intake also contribute.
Why AIMIS for this Surgery
AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.
Other Services Provided by AIMIS
In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way. From the start of your journey you'll know the best flights to take, where you'll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your postsurgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become "part of our family" and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.