Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints
A joint is an area where two bones meet. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage.
Cartilage normally protects a joint, allowing it to move smoothly. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, such as when you walk. Without the normal amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.
Pain that comes on gradually and worsens over time
Typically, back pain that’s not osteoarthritis comes on suddenly and results in an excruciating attack that may leave you immobilized but gradually improves as the underlying problem heals. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, may start with a twinge here, a twinge there, and before you know it you have a backache almost every day.
Stiffness and limited range of motion
If you feel stiff and achy when you get out of bed in the morning, it’s often a sign of osteoarthritis rather than sore muscles or a disc problem.
Neck pain that radiates into the head and shoulders
A pulled muscle in the neck or shoulder typically affects one localized area — you may even be able to touch or pinch the muscle and feel that it’s swollen. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, may affect the cervical or thoracic spine, causing pain to be felt upward and outward.
Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, and fingers
Some people confuse carpal tunnel syndrome with arthritis of the spine because some of the symptoms can be similar. A loss of sensation or stiffness in the wrists, hands, and fingers may make it feel like you’re losing control of your fine motor movements
Pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs
A feeling of numbness or tingling that radiates down the buttocks and into the legs is typical of osteoarthritis of the spine as it progresses.