Osteoarthritis of the vertebral spine is common in later life, and is especially prevalent in the cervical and lumbar spine (also see Chapter 4). Typically, the pain of osteoarthritis of the spine is worse in the morning, increases with motion, but is relieved by rest. It is associated with morning stiffness, and a decreased range of motion of the spine in the absence of systemic symptoms. The severity of symptoms does not correlate well with radiographic findings, and patients with severe degenerative changes on plain radiographs may be asymptomatic, whereas patients with symptoms suggestive of osteoarthritis of the spine may have minimal radiologic findings. In some patients, extensive osteophytic changes may lead to compression of lumbar nerve roots or may even cause cauda equina syndrome.
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