May 21, 2015 8:17 pm

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In honor of National Arthritis Month, I’d like to share —and hopefully clear up— some of the misconceptions on arthritis of the spine. Back pain due to spinal arthritis is widespread, and everyone seems to have an opinion about what to do about it. Most of these remedies are well meaning, sometimes effective, but harmless, but the real danger lies in misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment or pain management practices.

My younger patients with back pain due to arthritis often tell me their pain “makes them feel like they are 80 years old,” but arthritis isn’t just a disease of “old” people. It can happen to anyone at any point in their life. While it is more prevalent in the elderly, I see back pain due to arthritis in children, young adults, and certainly those of us, like me, in middle age. Injuries to joints during our youth from accidents, sports, and even heavy work can cause accelerated degradation of the joint, leading to premature arthritis.

Arthritic back pain that comes from the joints of the spine has a characteristic pattern: most of the pain is in your back, then it goes to your buttocks, feels like it is in your hip, and radiates down the leg to the outer thigh. This type of pain can make you miserable, but it’s really pretty easy to treat.

At Phoenix Spine Surgery Center, we start by examining you to localize the pain. We review your MRI to confirm that the joint that hurts is swollen, and we then test this out by injecting numbing into the nerve branches that supply the joint. If your pain goes away for a few hours, while the numbing is working, and then comes back, we know for sure which joints are causing the pain. Next we go in with an endoscope and cut the pain by cutting the nerve signal. This is our signature minimally-invasive DVR surgery. We are one of the few Spine Centers in the country doing this procedure – and we continue to be amazed by the great results. (Click here for more information).

It is important to note that not all back pain is nerve pain; it is often caused by arthritis of the spine. Our minimally invasive DVR surgery is very effective in treating back pain caused by arthritis of the spine. Understanding this difference will allow you to avoid unnecessary treatments, such as epidural injections.

We have patients come in daily with osteoarthritis pain that they have been living with for months or even years. In one afternoon, we can block the pain,, and then perform DVR, so these same patients walk out of our office pain free. If you think you may be a good candidate for this procedure, visit our website and review the process. You can submit your information for a free consultation to see if you are a good candidate for DVR surgery.