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 Otc And Prescription Drugs Treat Spinal Osteoarthritis
Over-the-counter and prescription medications for spinal arthritis are usually the same as those taken to treat joint-related arthritic pain in the hips and kneesunless the diagnosis is rheumatoid or another type of inflammatory arthritis. For patients with symptoms of pain or numbness affecting the arms or legs, a may be considered.
Today, people with spinal arthritis have access to different types of pain medications that can be taken or applied to relieve pain. Some require a doctor’s prescription, some do not. However, do not assume that just because a drug is available without a prescription, or over the counter, that it is safe for everyone.
How Will I Know If I Have Lumbar Arthritis
If youre experiencing lumbar arthritis, you may have already been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. In most cases of psoriatic arthritis, a diagnosis of psoriasis will precede any arthritis symptoms that occur.
If youre experiencing stiffness, creaking, and lost range of motion in your lower back and have never been diagnosed by a doctor with arthritis, see your doctor. They will perform a physical exam to check for inflammation and swelling at the site of your pain.
If your doctor suspects that you have arthritis, you will probably need to have an X-ray. X-rays can show any issues with bone density, cartilage loss, and bone spurs that may be causing your pain.
X-rays can also be useful in tracking your arthritis and assessing whether your recommended treatment is preventing further damage to your joints.
Your doctor will also order a blood test to determine what kind of arthritis you have.
You may be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in joint pain, for further testing.
What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis of the spine may cause stiffness or pain in the neck or back. It may also cause weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if it is severe enough to affect spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself. Usually, the back discomfort is relieved when the person is lying down.
Some people experience little interference with the activities of their lives. Others become more severely disabled.
In addition to the physical effects, a person with osteoarthritis might also experience social and emotional problems. For instance, a person with osteoarthritis that hinders daily activities and job performance might feel depressed or helpless.
When To See A Doctor
Talk to your doctor when you have symptoms of arthritis to get a proper diagnosis as that can determine the best treatment options for you. It is best to get arthritis checked and treated early as it may lead to complete loss of movement in your hands and fingers if allowed to progress unchecked.
Arthritis may not be curable, but there may be a few things you can do to prevent it or at least lower your risk of getting it.
Don’t Miss: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Hot Flashes
How To Prevent Arthritis In Fingers
As you may be predisposed to arthritis in fingers, following these can reduce your chances of developing the condition:
- Regular hand and finger exercises
- Taking good care of hands and fingers after they sustain any kind of injury
- Quitting cigarettes
Arthritis in fingers may be from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or psoriatic arthritis. Some people are more prone to arthritis than others as lifestyle, previous injuries, and genetics play a role in the development of the condition. While arthritis cannot be reversed completely, early treatment may slow down its progress. You can manage the symptoms of arthritis with regular exercise, supplementation, and hot or cold massage. It is important that you work with your healthcare professional throughout to get the most out of your arthritis treatment and management options.
How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:
Medical history and physical exam
Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint
Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint
To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.
Also Check: How To Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Lifestyle Changes And Alternative Treatments
Certain lifestyle changes can help relieve the pressure on your spine and improve your overall outlook.
- eating foods that reduce inflammation
- quitting smoking
- reducing alcohol consumption
You may also benefit from working with a physical therapist. They can help you perform specific exercises that may restore lost range of motion in your lower back.
Pain from lumbar arthritis can also be treated by alternative or complementary medicine, especially in early stages. Acupuncture and chiropractic care felt in the lower back, but they arent long-term solutions.
Use Hot And Cold Therapy
Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Heat treatments can include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness and using an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort overnight.
- Cold treatments can help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers, is a component of some topical ointments and creams that you can buy over the counter. These products provide warmth that can soothe joint pain.
Also Check: How To Check If You Have Arthritis
Dealing With Knee Arthritis At Home
How Arthritis In The Back Is Treated
Treatment for back arthritis depends on many factors, including your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis, other medical conditions and medications, and personal health goals. Because joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
You May Like: What Type Of Turmeric Is Best For Arthritis
How Is Ankylosing Spondylitis Managed Or Treated
Ankylosing spondylitis is a lifelong condition. While theres no cure, treatments can prevent long-term complications, reduce joint damage and ease pain. Treatments include:
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can slow or stop disease progression. Many people experience worse pain when theyre inactive. Movement seems to lessen pain. Your healthcare provider can recommend safe exercises.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs :NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and naproxen , ease pain and inflammation.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs : Medications such as sulfasalazine reduce pain and joint swelling. The drugs also treat lesions caused by inflammatory bowel disease. Newer DMARDs called biologics help control inflammation by changing the immune system. Biologics include tumor necrosis factor and interleukin inhibitors .
- Corticosteroids: Injectable corticosteroids temporarily ease joint pain and inflammation.
- Surgery: A small number of people with ankylosing spondylitis may need surgery. Joint replacement surgery implants an artificial joint. Kyphoplasty corrects a curved spine.
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.
Recommended Reading: Are Potatoes Bad For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi Instead Of Yoga
Alternative exercises like yoga are known to build strength and flexibility. But tai chi may be a better bet for alleviating pain from back arthritis.
Tai chi originated as a fighting technique, but has transformed into gentle, continuously moving stretches. Many poses work from the waist, which enhances spinal stretching.
Unlike yoga, tai chi puts little stress on the joints and helps improve balance. If youre new to tai chi, consider signing up for a class. The exercises can also be modified for severe arthritis back pain.
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.
You May Like: How To Cure Arthritis In Hip
Prescription Medications For Spinal Osteoarthritis
Prescription strength NSAIDs are stronger doses of a chosen non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that helps block certain pain-producing chemicals in your body.
Muscle relaxants have a sedating effect and are prescribed to ease muscle tension.
Opioids may be prescribed to manage severe pain.
Lidocaine in an adhesive patch form may be prescribed for placement on the skin over the painful area.
Types Of Spinal Arthritis
Arthritis can develop in any joint of the body, including the spinal vertebrae. The most common types of arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disorder where the body attacks and destroys joint cartilage.
- Osteoarthritis: A wear-and-tear disorder in which the cartilage weakens and breaks down over time. Also called degenerative joint disease, it is the most common type of arthritis.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: Spondyloarthritis is a group of inflammatory diseases that affect the joints and the areas where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones. When it occurs in the spine, it is called ankylosing spondylitis . In severe cases, it can lead to several vertebra fusing together.
Several factors can increase your risk of developing arthritis of the spine. These include excess weight, menopause, diabetes, genetics, previous injuries and repetitive movements from certain occupations or activities that put excess stress on the spine.
Stop Withholding Info From Your Healthcare Provider
It’s tempting not to tell your healthcare provider everything, especially if you’re afraid you’ll have to go through unpleasant testing or have to change the treatment regimen you’re comfortable with.
But in order for your healthcare provider to have the best chance of helping you, he needs to know everything. Talk openly about what makes your condition better or worse, what concerns you have, and what you don’t understand.
The Best Treatment For Arthritis In The Lower Back
Arthritis and lower back pain are major concerns for adults as they age. A quick for the best treatments for arthritis in the lower back bring up articles suggesting pills, injections or surgery as well as a bunch of ads for supplements. While these can all help to manage symptoms of arthritis in the lower back they wont do anything to help to prevent arthritis from getting worse and more importantly wont help keep you active, strong, and doing what you love.
In this article well look at why improving movement and safely building strength is the absolute best treatment for arthritis in the lower back available to everyone.
Recommended Reading: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Ringing In The Ears
How Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Diagnosed
The best way to confirm a diagnosis of osteoarthritis is by X-ray. The doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam to see if the person has pain, tenderness, loss of motion involving the neck or lower back, or if symptoms are suggestive, signs of nerve involvement such as weakness, reflex changes, or loss of sensation.
The doctor may order certain tests to aid in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the spine. These tests include:
- X-rays to look for bone damage, bone spurs, and loss of cartilage or disc however, X-rays are not able to show early damage to cartilage.
- Blood tests to exclude other diseases
- Magnetic resonance imaging to show possible damage to discs or narrowing of areas where spinal nerves exit
Spinal Arthritis May Contribute To Other Issues In The Spine
Spinal arthritis may cause bone spurs overgrowths on the edges of the bones. In the spine, bone spurs particularly affect facet joints, making them grow larger. This condition is called facet joint hypertrophy. Although bone spurs on their own are not harmful, they may narrow the passages for the spinal cord and the nerves exiting the spine. This may lead to two painful conditions:
Spinal stenosis compression of the spinal cord inside the spinal canal
Radiculopathy pinching of the peripheral nerves as they exit the spine
Ankylosing spondylitis may also cause additional problems such as:
Stress fractures in places where new bone has formed
A spinal deformity called kyphosis
Read Also: How To Treat Arthritis Pain Naturally
Soak In An Epsom Salt Bath
Surgery For Back Arthritis
Surgery is a last resort when it comes to arthritis in the back. Know that 95 percent of people with back pain will not need surgery, and 75 percent will fully recover within three months, says Dr. Tiso.
Doctors recommend that you try medications, physical therapy, and weight loss before considering surgery, says Dr. Kilian. The best surgical outcomes often occur in patients who are actively involved in physical therapy and have a healthy body weight, he says.
The type of surgery depends on the type of arthritis and region of the back that is affected. Depending on the procedure performed, surgery aims to decompress any pinched nerves and free up the nerve roots from bone spurs and other tissues that may be pressing on them.
Recommended Reading: What Is Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treating Arthritis In The Spine
Osteoarthritis in the lumbar spine causes pain that often radiates down through the lower body, including the pelvis, groin, buttocks, and thighs. Treatment usually involves physical therapy or specific exercises designed to strengthen your core . This can include yoga, aquatic therapy, or similar strengthening exercise routines.
Patients with lumbar osteoarthritis may also go on a regimen of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as acetaminophen. If the pain becomes too severe, corticosteroid injections may alleviate the pain. There is also a radiofrequency neurotomy procedure, where radio waves are used to create heat that disrupts the medial nerves ability to transmit pain signals.
Neck pain from osteoarthritis, called cervical spondylosis, is caused by a deterioration of the discs and joint cartilage in the cervical spine or neck bones. Its most common in older patients, though younger people can develop cervical spondylosis. Some patients have little to no symptoms. Others may have stiffness or pain in the neck or shoulders or between the shoulder blades.
Treatment for cervical spondylosis can range from NSAIDs pain medications to corticosteroid injections. Patients may also use muscle-relaxing medication.
In severe cases of osteoarthritis, surgery may be needed to repair herniated or degenerated discs or to remove bone spurs from the spine. Recovering can take up to six months and requires physical therapy to return a proper range of motion.