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'Degenerative changes' in the spine: Is this arthritis?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/arthritis/AN00124
- With Mayo Clinic rheumatologist
April Chang-Miller, M.D.read biographyclose window
April Chang-Miller, M.D.April Chang-Miller, M.D.
Dr. April Chang-Miller is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology and is a consultant in the Division of Rheumatology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Dr. Chang-Miller's primary field is rheumatology with special interests in inflammatory joint diseases called seronegative spondyloarthropathies, such as ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. She also cares for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica.
The New York City native is a graduate of the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Chang-Miller joined the Mayo Clinic staff in Rochester, Minn., in 1991, and in 2002 she relocated to Mayo Clinic in Arizona. She is a fellow in the American College of Rheumatology and has been on the board of directors of the Arthritis Foundation North Central Chapter.
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Alternative medicine (2)
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'Degenerative changes' in the spine: Is this arthritis?
My doctor says I have "degenerative changes" in my spine. Does this mean I have arthritis?
from April Chang-Miller, M.D.
CLICK TO ENLARGE
|Osteoarthritis of the spine|
Yes. The phrase "degenerative changes" in the spine refers to osteoarthritis of the spine. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Doctors may also refer to it as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis in the spine most commonly occurs in the neck and lower back.
In osteoarthritis of the spine, the spaces between the vertebrae narrow. Bone spurs often form. When bone surfaces rub together, the vertebral joints (facets) and areas around the cartilage become inflamed and painful. Gradually, your spine stiffens and loses flexibility. Once these changes appear on X-rays, osteoarthritis has already started.
If you have osteoarthritis, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment and pain management plan, which may include exercise, medications and measures to protect your joints. Your doctor may also refer you to a rheumatologist, physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon.Next question
Tailbone pain: How can I relieve it?
- Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp. Accessed March 22, 2011.
- Alparslan L, et al. Imaging modalities in rheumatic disease. In: Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/119289600-3/801105997/1807/375.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3285-4..10053-1--s1110_1648. Accessed March 22, 2011.