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Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage that protects and cushions
the joints breaks down over time. Eventually, the bones—formerly separated by
the cartilage—rub against each other, resulting in damage to the tissue and
underlying bone and causing painful joint symptoms.
is common in the joints of the spine, including the small facet joints and the
large joints between the vertebrae.
The lower picture also shows
flattened discs. This is a common part of aging in which the discs that cushion
the bones of the spine lose fluid and can develop tiny cracks. When discs
flatten, there is less space between the bones. This can make osteoarthritis
worse and can also pinch the nerves that are near the spine.
April 8, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
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