Arthritis and Spondyolosis


Arthritis is often referred to as a single disease. In fact, it is a term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet (1,2).

Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each another) and surrounding structures. This can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car and preparing food.  The effects of arthritis can range from benign to severe (1,2).

Inside healthy joints, the ends of the bones are covered with a tough tissue called cartilage. This cartilage is smooth and slick, so the bones can move easily. Inside arthritic joints, the cartilage becomes rough and pitted. As the joints wear down, calcium deposits, spurs and swelling may develop. This restricts the movements of the joints and causes pain and inflammation.

Arthritis is not a consequence of age, it affects people of all ages. It is not a natural part of ageing. In fact 60% of all people suffering from the disease are of working age (3).

While there are about 100 forms of arthritis, the three most significant – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout – account for more than 95 per cent of cases in Australia (1,3,4).
While there may be not yet be an arthritis cure, some arthritis treatment is available. The effects of arthritis may be mediated by medication and managed through excercise and education supporting the importance of rehabilitation in the physical management of arthritis (3,5).

It is importanat with arthritis is to maintain as much normal function as possible in the affected areas (1,5).

Your health practitioner can also recommend stretches, exercises, and aids available to help improve mobility and range of motion in people with arthritis. Activities such as yoga, swimming and specific joint mobilisation exercises can be beneficial in this respect (1,3,5).


Repetitive injury to the disc, the facet joints, and the surrounding ligaments may result in increased wear and tear and weight-bearing stress on the spine. This stress can negatively affect the cartilage around the joints and causes calcium to deposit in the tissues around the vertebrae, forming bone spurs. These spurs can compress adjacent nerves, blood vessels and soft tissue resulting in symptoms ranging from minor pain, numbness to gross sensory loss and muscular atrophy. This condition – known as Spondylosis- is a form of arthritis that affects most people at some point in his or her life. It is also part of the normal ageing process of the spine. However, factors such as previous trauma, lifestyle, and repetitive stress injury influences the time of onset in life (1,2).


  • 1.
  • 2. CushJJ, Kavanaugh A, Stein CM (2015). RheumaKnowlegy. ICD9 code:270.0.
  • 3. Bates,S, Smedley, C., Wong, M.,
    Kayess, R. & Fisher,K.R. (2014). Arthritis and disability (SPRC
    Report 26/2014). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia.
  • 4. Painful
    realities: The economic impact of arthritis in Australia 2007 (REPORT
  • 5.Larmer PJ, Reay ND, et al Systematic review of guidelines for the physical management of osteoarthritis Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Feb;95(2):375-89.

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