Mention osteoarthritis and most people immediately think about knee pain and stiffness. Though osteoarthritis often develops in the knee joints, it also occurs in all weight-bearing joints, including your spine.
The spinal joints support the weight of your upper body. And that means they’re highly vulnerable to the wear-and-tear that leads to osteoarthritis.
In honor of Arthritis Awareness Month, our team at iMed Regeneration Center decided to focus on a problem that flies under the radar for most people: the role of poor posture in spinal osteoarthritis.
Have you ever wondered why your posture is important? Sure, you look better and move with more grace when you’re not slouching, but good posture is also crucial for your spinal health.
Every part of your spine — from the joints and discs between vertebrae to the spine’s natural curves and supporting muscles — is precisely designed to work together as your spine holds your body upright, supports your balance, and allows you to bend, twist, and rotate.
Good posture keeps the spinal structures in their proper alignment. Alignment is essential because it ensures that the stress is equally shared along the spine. Each individual structure must support its fair share of the load to keep the entire spine healthy and functioning without back or neck pain.
On the other hand, bad posture throws the spine out of alignment. As a result, some vertebrae, joints, discs, and muscles take on more stress than they’re built to withstand. Before long, the strain causes injuries, tissue degeneration, and osteoarthritis.
Most vertebrae in your spine have four facet joints, two on the top and two on the bottom to connect with the adjacent vertebrae. Though these joints are much smaller than your knee, they have a similar structure.
The ends of the bones are covered with protective cartilage and each joint is enclosed in a capsule (synovial membrane) made of connective tissues. The capsules help support the joint and also produce synovial fluid that lubricates the bones and promotes smooth movement.
As you get older, the cartilage wears down due to the cumulative effect of daily movement. As poor posture causes misalignment, the extra stress accelerates cartilage deterioration, causes disc degeneration (which further throws the spine out of alignment), and leads to inflamed capsules. These changes cause painful spinal osteoarthritis.
There are many daily habits that lead to poor posture. You may spend too much time with your head bent down while using your computer or smartphone. Or maybe you’re in the habit of slouching, a position that strains the spinal structures.
Lack of exercise weakens the supporting muscles. Being overweight and sitting for a prolonged time while working add to the overall stress placed on your spine. Ergonomics (the way you hold and move your body while working, sitting, or standing) also has a big impact on your posture.
The good news is that you can always improve your posture and realign your spine. And if you do it before arthritis develops, you can dramatically lower your risk of developing this chronic and sometimes debilitating condition.
As specialists in chiropractic care, we take care of all aspects of your spinal health, including evaluating your posture, recommending exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture, and using manual manipulation to realign your spine.
We can also assess your ergonomics and offer practical tips for improving and maintaining your posture during your daily activities.
If you want to prevent spinal arthritis or improve your posture, or if you have any questions about spinal health, call us at iMed Regeneration Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, or click on the online booking feature today.