Who Gets Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
In general, osteoarthritis happens as people get older. Younger people may get it from one of several different causes:
- injury or trauma to a joint
- a genetic defect involving cartilage
For people younger than age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among men. After age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among women. Osteoarthritis occurs more often among people who are overweight. It also occurs more frequently in those who have jobs or do sports that put repetitive stress on certain joints.
Transform Chores Into A Workout
If youre at a loss for where to work out, look no further than your own house. Chores can turn into opportunities for arthritis exercises.
The key is to engage your core muscles. Keep your back straight and gently contract your abdominal muscles to get the most out of your movements.
Bend with your legs and not with your back while tightening your stomach to protect your back muscles.
You can practice this technique during a variety of chores, including:
How To Ease Back Pain
Which treatment you and your doctor will decide on will depend on the type of joint problem you have and how serious it is.
For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis and show signs of joint damage, your doctor may recommend a prescription medication like a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug. You may hear it called a DMARD. DMARDs ease inflammation and help keep your joint damage from getting worse.
Many of the things that can ease back pain caused by other problems can help with joint problems, too. Talk to your doctor about:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications . These medications target inflammation and pain, which is why theyâre often recommended for back problems. You can get many NSAIDs over the counter. You may be able to use them with other types of medication for joint pain.
Exercise. Gentle activities, like water aerobics, tai chi, or yoga, can really help ease low back pain from joint problems. Any movement that doesnât cause more pain is helpful. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist if youâre not sure where to start or how to exercise safely.
Squashing stress. Stress and anxiety make low back pain worse. But easing stress through talk therapy, mindfulness training, or other methods can ease pain and improve your quality of life. Your doctor can talk over stress-busting techniques with you.
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Preventing Arthritis Of The Spine
Aside from possible inherited vulnerability for osteoarthritis, much of the harm that occurs to facet joints is the product of lifestyle factors and how they combine with each other. Things that contribute to stress and strain on the joints, including the facet joints, include obesity, high blood-sugar levels , lack of adequate physical exercise, and injury. The good news is, arthritis can be prevented and its progression can be slowed down. Here are four ways to take control and keep your facet joints in tiptop shape:
Use Heat And Cold Therapy
A hot or cold compress which works better for pain relief? The answer is they both have their place.
Applying heat to the area of the back that hurts provides soothing pain relief for a lot of people. You can choose dry heat applied directly to the sore spots.
Or you can try moist heat, like a warm, moist towel or even a warm bath. The Healthy Back Institute offers a state-of-the-art heating pad thats been shown to melt away pain and restore mobility in just 10 minutes.
On the other hand, using ice packs or a cold compress can help numb arthritis pain.You can alternate between the two, but feel free to use whatever method provides you with the most pain relief.
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Effects Of Ra On The Back
RA causes inflammation in joints. The cervical spine has seven vertebrae, or bones. RA inflammation typically affects C1, also called the atlas, and C2, also called the axis.
C1 and C2 are the uppermost vertebrae and they have synovial-lined joints like those of the peripheral joints.
When the immune system attacks the tissue that lines these joints it can lead to an excess of synovial fluid. This causes swelling and pain and joint erosion over time.
Once C1 and C2 are affected, the inflammation can also cause pain in surrounding areas, including the upper back, shoulders, and head.
RA can also affect the facet joints of the spine. You have a pair of facet joints that run along the spine on both sides at the back of the spine. They connect to the bony bumps you feel down your back. The facet joints support the movement and flexibility of your spine.
RA can cause the facet joints to become inflamed resulting in neck and/or back pain. Sometimes, chronic inflammation can cause damage to the facet joints and make the spine less stable.
Instability in the spine causes a vertebra to slip out of their place where an upper vertebra slide over the lower one. This is called spondylolisthesis.
Spondylolisthesis is different from a slipped disc, or correctly named, a herniated disc. A herniated disc is usually the result of injury. C1 and C2 also are unique vertebrae that do not have discs between them.
Treatments For Back Pain
More than 85 percent of people with lower back pain improve with minimal treatment in a matter of days. However, if back problems persist, doctors generally prescribe one or more of the following treatments: proper exercise, rest, heat and cold, posture training, weight loss, stress management and relaxation exercises, medication, spinal manipulation and/or surgery. For some back conditions, the doctor may refer you to another specialist such as an orthopedist, rheumatologist, physiatrist, physical or occupational therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or surgeon.
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The Basics Of Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis includes disease of the vertebrae in the neck and the middle , and the lower back . These bones are separated by discs that serve as joints and cushion the bones. These bones can deteriorate because of chronic diseases or degeneration due to aging. This causes arthritis.
There are two major types of arthritis:
- Inflammatory arthritis: This type of arthritis can affect patients of all ages and is caused by chronic autoimmune disorders. Patients report stiffness, limited mobility in the back, and pain in the neck or back. Patients often can improve by taking part in certain exercises or physical therapy. Medicine regimens have also been shown to help these patients.
- Osteoarthritis: This type of arthritis more often hits older adults, as it is often caused by degeneration as the person gets older. The bones along the spine wear down over time. They sometimes develop narrowed or ruptured discs, bone spurs, and cysts. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment Goals
The vast majority of people with degenerative disc disease experience low back pain symptoms that flare up periodically, but do not get worse over time. For those people, the main goals for managing lower back pain caused by degenerative disc disease are usually:
- Achieving enough pain relief to be able to engage in lower back pain exercises and a rehabilitation program
- Trying to manage the low back pain and maintaining an ability to function at home and at work.
Once a disc has degenerated, the degenerative process cannot be reversed. Instead of trying to rehabilitate the disc itself, treatment focuses on improving the health of surrounding structures, such as the spinal nerves, vertebral bones and joints, and supporting muscles and ligaments.
The main goals of the rehabilitation program include a therapist-guided and individual approach, which aim to2:
- Increase, restore, and/or maintain the range of motion in the affected spinal segment
- Build physical strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and endurance in the lower back and legs
- Guide patients to make ergonomic changes in their workspace and home to support the spine and prevent recurrence of pain
- Teach the correct use of posture while sitting, walking, sleeping, and lifting to promote maximum function with lesser pain
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Are Glucosamine And Chondroitin Supplements Helpful For Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
Supplements are not reviewed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration . They are not required to undergo the same rigorous clinical trial methods that medications must undergo in the U.S. Some clinical trials show benefits with pain relief however, there is no proof that these supplements slow the progression of osteoarthritis. If you plan to try these, always check with your healthcare provider before using supplements. These products may interfere with medications you currently take.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Dull or burning joint pain, morning stiffness, swollen joints in your hand are all symptoms of arthritis. Many types of arthritis could affect your hands. Many treatment options are available depending on your exact arthritis type. Medications can reduce joint pain and swelling. Researchers are still working on ways to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. See your healthcare provider if you think you have arthritis in your hands. They will perform a complete exam and offer you a complete treatment plan, which includes hand exercises, use of hot and cold packs, other lifestyle tips and traditional treatments including medications, braces/splints, steroid injections and surgery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/06/2021.
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Reactive Or Enteropathic Arthritis
Both reactive and enteropathic arthritis are tied to lumbar arthritis symptoms.
Reactive arthritis is triggered by an infection in your body. It typically results after a bacterial infection, such as chlamydia or salmonella.
Enteropathic arthritis is typically tied to inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease.
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What Is The Prognosis For People Who Have Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms may gradually worsen as you age. The condition is rarely disabling or life-threatening. Still, symptoms like joint pain may interfere with your ability to do the things you love. Early interventions can ease inflammation and pain. A combination of physical activity and medications can help.
Nerve Pain Or Numbness
As arthritis causes joints to break down, bone spurs can form. These come in contact with nerves in the spinal column and cause pain, tingling, and numbness in other areas.
You may not notice these sensations all the time, but they can become problematic when doing even the most basic activities like bending over to tie your shoes or reaching up to get something from the top shelf.
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When Does Spinal Arthritis Become Spinal Stenosis
As a part of normal aging, the spine can develop arthritis. The discs lose their water content and begin to collapse, bone spurs form, and the ligaments around the joints of the spine begin to thicken. After age 50, these slowly growing bone spurs and thickened ligaments may begin to narrow the spinal canal and compress nerves. The result is slowly worsening pain into the buttocks, hips, thighs, and legs. Walking and standing are often worse than sitting. Feet or legs can become numb or tingle. Walking distances becomes more difficult as the legs begin to feel heavy. Often, patients find themselves standing or walking in a stooped forward position in order to ease the pain. This process of spinal nerve compression is called spinal stenosis. Back pain may or may not be present. Over time, if signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis are ignored, bowel and bladder control can be lost.
Nonoperative Treatment of Spinal Stenosis
Surgery for Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis most often requires surgery to decompress nerve roots and alleviate the pressure caused by the overly narrowed spinal canal. The surgery is called Laminectomy and is commonly done by spine surgeons all over the country.
Risks of Surgery: The risk of infection is 1-2%. If the incision becomes infected, an additional trip to the operating room is usually required to wash out the infection. Antibiotics are required, sometimes through a vein.
Surgical Procedure for correcting spinal stenosis
Make Your Own Capsaicin Cream
Capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat, is an ingredient in many over-the-counter pain relief ointments. It works by reducing levels of a compound called substance P, which transmits pain signals to your brain. You can whip up your own massage oil by mixing a few dashes of ground cayenne with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Apply it with gauze to unbroken skin on your painful joints several times a day. The first few doses will cause a mild burning sensation on the surface of your skin, but youll become desensitized to that feeling after a week or so. Just be sure to keep it away from your mouth, eyes, and other mucous membranes, where it will really sting.
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Warm Or Cold Compress
Using a warming pad or whirlpool for a few minutes can loosen a stiff back and make activity easier. Icing the back for 15 or 20 minutes after activity can decrease swelling and provide quick pain relief.
These temporary treatments will not alleviate the underlying causes of back pain or improve long-term joint function.
Spinal Arthritis: What You Need To Know
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, but is more frequent in the lower back and neck.
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
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Types Of Arthritis That Affect The Back
If you have arthritis in your back, its important to understand the type of arthritis that might be causing it. Different types of arthritis have specific medications and treatments. Here are some of the more common types of arthritis that affect the back.
It is common for people with back pain to have more than one cause, which could include arthritis as well as other causes .
Osteoarthritis Of The Back/spine
Spinal OA can make it hard to get around. Treatment can ease your back pain.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects the back. It can occur anywhere along the spine. Usually the low back and sometimes the neck are affected.
In OA, the cartilage that pads the ends of the bones wears down. In spinal OA, this occurs in the facet joints small joints located between and behind vertebrae.
When you move, the bones rub together painfully. Bony growths form in the joints. These spurs can press on nerves, causing more pain.
Causes of Back/Spine OA
The cause of OA is unknown. Some common factors that play a role in OA include:
- Age: The older you are the greater your chance of having OA.
- Weight: People who are overweight are more likely to have OA.
- Stress: Repeated joint stress from work or sports can increase your risk.
- Injury: A back injury can lead to OA.
- Genetics: Some people have a family history of OA.
Symptoms of Back/Spine OA
Symptoms usually start slowly and get worse as time goes by. Pain and stiffness may be worst when you first wake up or after sitting for a long time. Pain can also get bad after being very active.
- Stiffness and a loss of flexibility: Turning your neck or straightening your back may be tough.
- Pain: Your low back is the most common site of pain.
- Crepitus: You may have a feeling of grinding when moving.
- Tenderness and swelling: Your back along the affected joints may be sore to the touch.
Diagnosing Back/Spine OA
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Physical Therapy For Back Arthritis Information Exercises And More
You cant move like you used to. The pain in your back has gone from uncomfortable to debilitating.
Or maybe you are frustrated by tingling and numbness in your arms and legs. You keep wishing there was something you could do about it.
Getting up every morning shouldnt be this hard. Tired of your stiff back keeping you from doing the things you love?
Physical therapy and fitness coaching can help you regain motion and manage symptoms of back arthritis.
Keep reading to find out how physical therapy for back arthritis can help you get back to enjoying life.
What Can I Do
Learn about back pain and play an active role in your treatment. Not all information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. Reliable sources of further information are also listed in the section below. Self-management courses aim to help you develop skills to be actively involved in your healthcare. Contact your local Arthritis Office for details of these courses.
Stay active and healthy. Your back is designed for movement. Continuing with your normal activities or returning to them as soon as you can will help you recover from a bout of back pain. Some pain with activity is normal but does not mean it is causing harm. You may need to rest or reduce some activities when the pain is excessive. But resting for more than a day or two usually does not help and may do more harm than good. See a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist for advice about exercises to keep your back moving. If you are carrying extra kilos, losing weight with the help of a dietitian may be of benefit, as may be strategies to reduce stress and anxiety.
Learn ways to manage pain. There are many things you can try, including
Acknowledge your feelings and seek support. It is natural to feel worried, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry when you have pain. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life.
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