Arthritis is a disease affecting the joints, cartilage, bones, muscles, and connective fibers in your body. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but the 2 most common affecting adults are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 90% of adults in the US experience some form of arthritis. With its many joints and central role in supporting the body, the spine is a common area for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that mostly affects older individuals. While the exact cause isn’t known, it is associated with wear and tear on the joints from aging or acute injury. Osteoarthritis is most common in joints that are used often, such as the hands, hips, back and legs.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can strike at any age causing pain, swelling, and reduced mobility in any joint in the body. While commonly felt in the hands and fingers, it can also occur in the joints in the spinal column and in the hips.
Facet disease or facet joint syndrome is most commonly arthritis that affects the facet joints. The joints in our spine join bones together to allow movement and limit rotation in the spine to ensure the vertebrae don’t slip out of position. This provides stability in your spine as you move. For every vertebrae in your spine, there are two facet joint sets, one facing up and down and the other facing left to right. These joints are surrounded by connective tissue producing fluid. The fluid lubricates and nourishes the joint. Cartilage coating the joints helps it to move and glide more smoothly together. Facet joints allow you to bend, stretch, and twist. These joints are also the ones in the spine that are most likely to develop osteoarthritis. Someone who is diagnosed with arthritis in the spine is most likely experiencing cartilage breakdown in those joints causing mild to severe pain.