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
Rest To Prevent Painful Spinal Arthritis Flare
Treatment plans for osteoarthritis should include regularly scheduled rest and breaks, including taking breaks from such tasks as using a computer. Patients will benefit from learning to recognize the body’s signals, and knowing when to stop or slow down.
Resting sore joints decreases stress on the joints and muscles, and relieves pain and muscle spasms. Patients are asked to simply decrease the intensity and/or frequency of the activities that consistently cause them joint pain until they can get their muscles stronger.
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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Age Affects Back Pain
The discs between the vertebra dry out as we get older, and we can develop arthritis of the small joints that help us bend forward and backward . Moreover, patients over 70 or 80 may develop stenosis , known as lumbar canal stenosis.
Along with exercise, guided imagery and meditation for chronic pain management can be helpful.
“Folks present leg pain, numbness, or heaviness in the legs when walking for some time , and these symptoms resolve with sitting,” Venesy explains. Another issue is that older women have a higher risk for compression fractures related to osteoporosis.
Regarding prevention, it is necessary to address “modifiable risk factors through eating a healthy diet, living an active lifestyle, avoiding smoking, and seeking a mental health professional if one is experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression,” Portugal says. “A sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, depression, and anxiety are associated with a higher risk of chronic low back pain.”
Further, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, which may reduce the risk of developing many chronic medical conditions, including low back pain,” Portugal adds.
Venesy recommends cardio exercise , core strengthening, and stretching. “Core strengthening is the most important so that our spine can tolerate the things we do daily .”
What Are Good Ra Back Pain Exercises
A person can use many exercises to help relieve back pain associated with RA.
For example, yoga or tai chi can increase flexibility, balance, and stability while also reducing stress levels. Water exercises such as swimming or aerobics may also ease stiffness and pain while improving range of motion.
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Are There Any Complications
Some people who have osteoarthritis in their neck might have problems swallowing or when they speak, but this is not very common. This can be caused by bony spurs affecting blood supply to the spinal cord.
If you have osteoarthritis of the spine, you may have other problems that may need treating. Let your doctor know urgently if you:
- have trouble going for a wee, or feel like you need a wee when you dont
- lose control of your bladder or bowel the organs that control wee and poo
- have feelings of numbness or tingling around your genitals or bottom
- lose power in your legs
- feel unwell like having a fever or sweating.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that happens when the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord, gets narrower. The most common symptoms are pain and weakness or numbness in the area linked to the affected part of the spine such as the legs, arms, neck, back or shoulders.
Spinal stenosis is often caused by osteoarthritis, as the bony spurs that form on the edge of the vertebrae can irritate the nerves in your spine. It can usually be treated with exercise, over-the-counter drugs and steroid injections.
Sometimes surgery will be needed to remove the spurs and make space in the vertebral column.
Living With Arthritis In The Back
Back arthritis is manageable with the appropriate treatment methods, which may include lifestyle adjustments and the use of assistive devices such as a walking stick.
Some people only require OTC pain relief, while others may need prescription medications. If medication stops working, a person should contact a doctor.
Additionally, regular exercise that includes short, low impact physical activities daily may help reduce back pain. A physical therapist or doctor can provide exercise recommendations.
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Hot And Cold Treatments
Hot and cold packs cant treat the underlying causes of back pain, but they can help to lower the pain and stiffness you feel during a flare-up.
Use a heat pack to help improve blood flow and reduce muscle spasms. It can also help make your pain more manageable.
Use a cold pack to help lower RA inflammation. It should mainly be used for flare-ups or acute pain.
Cold packs may feel uncomfortable at first, but they can lower swelling and help the pain. Cold packs should only be applied for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
Medication can be an effective way of controlling chronic back pain. The type of medication youll need depends on how severe your pain is and how often you experience it.
A variety of medications can alleviate pain and even slow the progression of RA.
Expert Q& a: Back Strain Or Arthritis
Understand the difference between spinal arthritis and other types of back pain, and try these pain-relieving tricks.
Question: I am a 35-year-old man who has had pain in my lower back for the past couple of weeks, and Id like to know some methods for low back pain relief. Because my mother and an aunt both have arthritis, Im also wondering if I’m developing arthritis, too.
A: It’s possible, but very unlikely, that you have arthritis of the spine. The most common cause of acute low back pain in people your age is back strain. This condition is caused by strain to the muscles or ligaments supporting the spine or a herniation of the lumbar disks . It is not always possible to differentiate between the two causes, nor is it necessary. In the vast majority of cases, the pain improves and subsides over several weeks.
Assuming your problem is simple back strain , the following advice can help you achieve low back pain relief:
Doyt Conn, MD
Emory University School of Medicine
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Tips For Easing Back Pain
Use these self-care tips to ease your back ache and pain associated with arthritis.
1. Relief is Possible
2. Get Wet
3. Move and Strengthen It
4. Find Your Zen
5. Cinch It In
6. Trim It Down
7. Visit China
8. Manipulate It
9. Apply Pressure
10. Put It Together
11. Medicate It
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:
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Neck Pain Doesnt Need To Affect Your Happiness And Wellbeing Any Longer
Although experiencing ongoing neck pain can be painful and uncomfortable, treating neck pain doesnt have to be hard.
If youre experiencing neck pain on an ongoing basis, it is important to have the right support to help you soothe yourself and feel better during these times The Biomat Professional is a great option for those looking to relax the neck muscles and bring down inflammation in both the neck area and upper back.
The Biobelt is also a fantastic solution to circulate blood flow in the neck region and ease any lingering pain. Simply place the belt behind the head from one shoulder to the other and let the healing properties work their magic.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to cure, diagnose or treat medical conditions. Please consult with a qualified health practitioner before beginning any new health program.
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.
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What Is The Va Disability Rating For Arthritis In The Back
Veterans who can make a successful service connection for their arthritis in the back can receive VA benefits for their back pain.
There are so many factors that can contribute to a Veterans back pain, and the VA has an interesting albeit arguably unfair way of determining the VA disability rating for arthritis in the back.
For other parts of the body, the VA will often give disability ratings depending on the severity of the symptoms that the Veteran suffers from. If the pain is higher and the Veteran is able to show ample evidence of this, then they can receive a higher disability rating.
With back pain, though, it is different. Higher disability ratings are determined by the range of motion, or the lack thereof, that a Veteran has in their back.
A Veteran cannot get a higher disability rating for arthritis in the back if their only symptom is pain. Even if life-altering pain keeps a Veteran from doing things, the VA may only give a Veteran a 10% disability rating.
Because the VAs rules and regulations keep them from giving higher ratings just for back pain, a Veteran will have to go to an examination that determines how much range of motion they have.
This is, unfortunately, the only way that a Veteran can get a higher VA rating for their back pain.
Where Do Physiatrists Work
“We are a very team-oriented specialty,” Venesy says. Physiatrists work with orthopedists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, and primary care physicians . Physiatrists do not perform surgery but can refer their patients to orthopedic doctors if surgery is indicated.
Physiatrists work in private practice, inpatient rehab centers, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, pediatric and cancer hospitals, and multi-specialty groups, among other places.
The first visit to a physiatrist is much the same as the first visit to any doctor, Venesy says. After the doctor gets the patient’s medical history and the reason for the visit, they ask how the problem affects the patient at home or work.
Next, the physiatrist will review the patient’s medications and electronic health record, any imaging reports, perform a physical examination, and provide a diagnosis and a care plan.
“We may order additional tests such as advanced imaging , lab work, or EMG ,” Venesy explains. A physiatrist may also suggest exercises, prescribe medications, and refer the patient for PT , OT , speech therapy, or acupuncture. They may also prescribe spine PT and aquatic physical therapy for back pain.
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Surprising Ways Arthritis Can Affect Your Whole Body
If you have rheumatoid arthritis , youre probably used to experiencing pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints. However, because rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, it can also affect your whole body and even lead to the damage of some of your major organs as well as a shorter life span.
So which parts of the body can RA affect? Keep reading to find out.
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What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and the spine is one of the most commonly affected parts of the body. Osteoarthritis of the spine affects the back and neck.
Osteoarthritis of the neck is sometimes called cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis means arthritis in the spine, and cervical is the medical term for the neck.
The joints in your body go through a normal cycle of damage and repair during your lifetime. But sometimes the process your body goes through to repair joints can change their shape or structure. When these changes happen in one or more of your joints, its called osteoarthritis.
Having back or neck pain doesnt mean you have osteoarthritis. Most cases of neck and back pain only last a short while and will improve by themselves, without treatment.
A joint is where two or more bones meet. You have a number of facet joints that sit on either side of your spine and guide the movement of the bones in your back and neck.
There are 33 vertebrae in your spine these start at the top of your neck and run all the way down your back, to your tailbone.
The spine is sometimes called the vertebral column or spinal column. Its purpose is to protect your spinal cord, carry the weight of your body and help you move around. The spine is split into five sections cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx.
Strong ligaments surround your spine and support the vertebrae, to help keep them in place.
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Nondrug Therapies And Lifestyle Changes To Ease Back Pain
Learn how assistive devices, mind-body therapies and healthy choices can provide back pain relief.
An estimated 50 percent to 80 percent of American adults will experience back pain. Whether because of a traumatic accident, a simple injury or osteoarthritis, there are ways to find relief. If you have a type of inflammatory arthritis such as ankylosing spondylitis or non-radiographic axial spondylarthritis, you also need to seek care from a rheumatologist to manage the inflammation that is driving your back pain. But these self-care tips can help to ease back pain.
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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Symptoms Of Ra In The Back
The C1 and C2 vertebrae in your neck connect both to your skull and the rest of your spine.
When RA affects this region, it can cause a person to have difficulty keeping stability and to experience stiffness and pain throughout their back.
RA pain can be different for each person. It can be dull or sharp, or it may just feel like tightness.
Some people with RA may experience pain radiating up the back of their head. This may feel like a dull pain. Alternatively, it may feel like a shooting or stabbing pain, which is a phenomenon called Lhermittes sign that can occur with different conditions, including RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system turns on itself. It attacks synovium the lining of the joints. Although rheumatoid arthritis is more common in other joints, it can also affect the spine, specifically the cervical region . Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine is not caused by wear and tear, so its considered an inflammatory arthritis. It may cause back pain even when these joints are not in use. It tends to affect women more than men.
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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.