Osteoarthritis of the Spine.

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Arthritis and Back Pain


Osteoarthritis of the spine is very common. It is so common, in fact, that we all have some degree of osteoarthritis of the spine as we get older. Most frequently, it presents itself from the age of 30 onwards and the symptoms and signs usually develop gradually over time.

What is osteoarthritis of the spine?

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disorder of the joints of your spine caused by a gradual loss of cartilage and it results in you developing bony spurs and cysts within the joints of your spine.

Osteoarthritic Spine image

The cause of osteoarthritis is considered to be hereditary as well as activity-related. If you are genetically prone to osteoarthritis then you should take all precautions to inhibit its progression in your body. If you overuse the joints of your spine over any great length of time you may also be increasing your chances of osteoarthritis as you get older. It is after all generally caused or aggravated by wear and tear - hence we all have it at some level!!

Osteoarthritis ranges from mild to severe and it can progress rapidly or it may not progress significantly at all. it is a common cause of back pain. There are many things that you can do to help reduce the symptoms and signs of your spinal osteoarthritis, as well as reducing the rate of its progression.

  1. Keep fit.
  2. Stay thin.
  3. Strengthen your muscles - around the affected joints especially.
  4. Attend a physiotherapist to mobilise stiff joints.
  5. Eliminate the cause if movement-related.
  6. Avoid back pain medication. unless all else fails, and you understand your condition first
  7. Exercise programs such as Pilates, Yoga or Tai Chi.
  8. Consider alternative therapist that specialises in this area - however, do so mindfully and don’t neglect conventional therapies.

The treatment of osteoarthritis in your spine is usually very successful. However I frequently see clients who have been “labelled” with osteoarthritis and told that they have to live with this age-related condition. This is not true. So much can be done to help you using physiotherapy and diet and quite often you may have pain in your spine related to your osteoarthritis which can be eliminated in minutes!!


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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