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What are the effects of degenerative arthritis of the spine?

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Quick Answer

Degenerative arthritis of the spine causes its soft disks, which serve as cushions, to shrink and dry out, according to Mayo Clinic. This can result in painful bone spurs, loss of spinal flexibility, weakness and numbness.

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Degenerative arthritis of the spine, often called osteoarthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that causes the protective coating of spinal disks to wear out, according to WebMD. Sometimes, this process produces bone spurs, which may pinch spinal nerves, causing pain, weakness or numbness. In general, most people who develop osteoarthritis of the spine do so as they age. However, a spinal injury or a genetic defect can cause the condition in younger people.

Treatment of osteoarthritis of the spine usually focuses on relieving symptoms and restoring or maintaining a person's ability to function and live a healthy life, states WebMD. Initial treatment may include losing weight, as this increases flexibility, improves mood and makes it easier to do everyday tasks. Massage and acupuncture may also help the patient maintain a more pain-free lifestyle. Taking certain nutritional supplements, and using hot and cold compresses to ease pain, can also help. Physical therapists may recommend exercises and stretches that strengthen the cardiovascular system and the spine.

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