What Are the Stages of Spinal Osteoarthritis?

Spinal Osteoarthritis
Spinal Osteoarthritis

Good health should always be a priority for every individual. There are many degenerative conditions affecting people globally. One such condition is spinal osteoarthritis. The condition causes extreme pain, so the patient needs to visit a good pain management clinic.

Some people are more likely to be affected than others, so it is important to be aware of the stages of this condition. Noticing the symptoms early helps medical professionals provide adequate treatment and decreases the risk of the condition becoming debilitating.

Risk Factors of Spinal Osteoarthritis

Several things increase the risk of osteoarthritis among many people. Some examples of this condition are old age, spinal injuries, and your family history. Generally, the risk factors cause the joint cartilages at the lower back to deteriorate.

This condition is rare for people under the age of 40. If you are over 55 and experiencing spinal pain, meet with a doctor right away. Females are also more likely to suffer from spinal osteoarthritis and that risk increases further after menopause. Repetition of laborious tasks, such as carpentry, farm work, factory work, or anything that requires frequent squatting or kneeling, makes you more susceptible to this issue.

Long-term sports play also increases the likelihood of getting this spinal condition. Participating in soccer, football, other contact sports, gymnastics, and cycling puts pressure on your joints, increasing the risk of this issue. If you participated in these activities as a youth, keep this in mind as you visit your doctor. And, of course, direct injuries to your spine heavily increase the likelihood of suffering from this arthritis.

Stages of Spinal Osteoarthritis

Understanding the stages of spinal osteoarthritis enables the patients to seek medical help in good time. Early treatment prevents spinal pain, joint tenderness, stiffness, and damage to the nervous system.

The following discussion enlightens readers about the major stages of spinal osteoarthritis.


Also known as a stage zero, the early stage is when diagnosis is not clear, but you have some healed or healing injuries. During this stage, an MRI may capture signs of pre-osteoarthritis. At this point, a doctor will look for changes in your joint lining. Treatment usually consists of lifestyle changes like losing weight, taking supplements, or taking pain medication as needed.

Early or Doubtful Stage

The stage is less severe without significant symptoms. There is little pain in the lower back during this time. The wear and tear in the joint cartilages are still less in the minor stage. In a nutshell, damage starts during pre-osteoarthritis but without any symptoms.

Doctors recommend getting a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan/examination during the doubtful stage. The examination helps to identify the small changes happening in the cartilage joints. A doctor usually looks for early signs of bone spurs.

Treatment is still necessary during this stage. The treatment depends on other factors like underlying health conditions. Patients should focus on making lifestyle changes. They should especially avoid activities that could strain or injure their lower backs to prevent the condition from worsening. Activities that patients can try are yoga and tai chi. If they are feeling any sort of pain, over-the-counter NSAIDs are a good option to reduce that symptom.

Mild or Minimal Stage

During the mild stage, bone spur growths start to become much more noticeable. Joint stiffness and discomfort also start to become increasingly prevalent. The growth of the bone spurs causes lower back pain to become more severe.

Cartilage breakdown also begins during the minimal stage. As a result, one is unable to perform many physical tasks. Bending also becomes troublesome with time. An increase in spinal pain during the mild stage hampers the movement of elderly osteoarthritis patients.

X-rays are the best diagnosis during the minimal stage of spinal osteoarthritis. The x-rays show the growing bone spurs and other issues affecting the cartilage joints.

Doctors may recommend that patients wear back braces. The braces minimize the spinal cord pressure, resulting in the alleviation of muscle tension and more comfort. Medical professionals may also recommend wearing shoe inserts or some kind of knee support.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications are also necessary for patients in the mild stage. Less vigorous exercises also reduce the severity of spinal osteoarthritis. Losing weight can also help provide relief.

Moderate Stage

Stage three of spinal osteoarthritis shows some additional and significant signs of cartilage wear. Cartilage erosion makes the gaps between the bone and cartilage joints narrower. Bone spurs become more enlarged.

One common symptom during the moderate stage is more agonizing pain in the lower back. The pain affects the central nervous system and leg muscles, causing movement problems. As the joints become stiffer, swelling and inflammation also become visible.

X-ray, arthroscopy, or MRI scans are the best medical examinations for patients in the moderate stage. OTC medications are the best for relieving pain caused by joint inflammation, but if the pain is severe, a doctor will prescribe pain medication or even hyaluronic acid or corticosteroid injections. Physiotherapy and regular exercises are also necessary to aid the recovery process.

Severe Stage

The severe stage is the most painful stage of spinal osteoarthritis. There is less or even zero cartilage left in the severe stage. The joints are tender and stiff because of less synovial fluid, and the bone spurs have already enlarged. These symptoms make it nearly impossible or impossible to do your daily activities.

Severe joint inflammations make it impossible for one to perform daily activities. Lab tests, MRI scans, and X-rays help to diagnose the problem. Invasive treatments like osteotomy, which is a bone realignment surgery, and arthroplasty are necessary for patients in the severe stage.

If your test results show that you have to make an immediate medical intervention, you need to contact the best orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore. This will help you rectify the problems you are suffering from and allow you to get your life back in order. Make sure you go for certified specialists with a proven track record of such procedures.

Visit a Good Pain Management Clinic

The most common symptom of spinal osteoarthritis is pain, which causes extreme discomfort. The best way to alleviate the symptom is by visiting the right pain management clinic.

These clinics provide pain-reducing medications and physiotherapies to address osteoarthritis. Always choose a reputable, licensed, and professional clinic for effective pain management.

I'm NOT a doctor! I'm just passionate about health and healthy leaving. The information on this website, such as graphics, images, text and all other materials, is provided for reference and educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. The content is not intended to be complete or exhaustive or to apply to any specific individual's medical condition.