Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Spine
An autoimmune disorder is any condition which causes your immune system (which normally guards us against invasive pathogens and harmful bacteria) to instead attack healthy, normal tissue. Some common autoimmune disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, in which joints all over the body (including facet joints in the spine) are attacked, causing back pain and inflammation as well as permanent decreases to mobility. Type I diabetes is another example: the body’s ability to produce insulin, a chemical that regulates blood sugar levels, is inhibited by the body’s immune system.
Within the context of the spinal column, autoimmune disorders can be extremely detrimental to long-term patient mobility and pose a serious threat to general quality of life. Rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other types of arthritis, can inflame the facet joints (the joints that allow for the articulation of the spine), which inhibits even routine movements like sitting, standing, and walking. Rheumatoid arthritis also increases a patient’s risk for compressing nearby spinal nerves and causing extreme back pain. Intertwined with our vertebrae, our spinal nerves are responsible for transferring sensation messages to and from our brain to much of the rest of the body. The severe inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis reduces the available room for spinal nerves to operate unimpeded, increasing the likelihood they will be compressed by nearby vertebrae during routine movement.
While many autoimmune disorders cannot presently be cured, doctors are hard at work trying to discover the links that cause our immune systems to compromise their normal function and damage healthy tissue. It is thought that many autoimmune disorders may be closely related via their root trigger mechanism. If an underlying chemical, hormonal, or genetic change can be identified, doctors can use this information to correct the defects in patients’ immune systems, in effect “re-programming” them to recognize native healthy tissue for what it is.
While that day may yet be far in the future, patients still have options available to improve their quality of life. Over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen help reduce inflammation in the spinal column, decreasing the likelihood of compressed spinal nerves and mediating pain levels. Physicians will also generally recommend a physical therapy regimen emphasizing core-strengthening exercises to develop muscles along the spinal column. Strong muscles throughout the torso will help mediate back pain as well as relieving load-bearing stress from compromised spinal discs (the shock-absorbing pads between our vertebrae) as well as decreasing the likelihood of compressing nearby spinal nerves.
The Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX cares for patients in Houston and the surrounding areas, including Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Texas Medical Center (TMC), Tomball and other Texas TX cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin
If you have SUFFERED AN INJURY, you can contact the Kraus Back and Neck Institute at
……. Or visit www.SpineHealth.com to schedule an appointment online
……. KBNI VIDEO
Keywords: autoimmune disorder, back pain, spinal nerves, rheumatoid arthritis, non steroidal anti-inflammatory, NSAID, Houston, Sugarland, Katy, Woodlands, Baytown, Beaumont, Spring, Pearland