Osteoarthritis of vertebrae, illustration

Osteoarthritis of vertebrae, illustration

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Credit: JOHN BAVOSI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Osteoarthritis of vertebrae. Illustration of the lower (lumbar) spine showing the effects of osteoarthritis. The front of the spine is at right. The cartilage (purple) that lines the joints between each vertebrae is considerably reduced. Bony spurs (osteophytes) have formed at the vertebral margins, and encroachment of the spurs (centre and lower centre) is compressing the spinal nerves (yellow) and narrowing the intervertebral spaces. Osteoarthritis is a joint disease aggravated by mechanical stress. Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness and swelling. There is no cure but symptoms can be relieved using drugs against pain and inflammation.

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