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
Neck Pain Caused By Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis of the neck, called cervical spondylosis, is also common. This is characterized by arthritic deterioration of the discs and facet joint cartilage of the cervical spine. Spondylosis is nearly universal in elderly patients, but can also affect younger people. Some people experience no symptoms, while others may feel stiffness and/or pain in the neck, shoulders and/or between the shoulder blades. See also .
Axial Spondyloarthritis Vs Peripheral Spondyloarthritis
Under the general umbrella term of spondyloarthritis, conditions are now classified further into two categories based on where symptoms occur in the body. These new classifications help healthcare providers make a more accurate diagnosis and provide more targeted treatment.
Based on the primary symptom a person experiences, people with SpA are divided into these two groups:
- Axial spondyloarthritis : This form of spondylitis most commonly affects the spine and pelvic joints. Back pain and stiffness of the spine are the predominant symptoms of axSpA. Axial spondyloarthritis is a broad category that includes people who may or may not have bone and joint damage detected by imaging tests.
- Peripheral spondyloarthritis : This form of spondylitis commonly causes joint inflammation and pain outside of the spine and sacroiliac joints, including the ankles, hands, elbows, feet, knees, shoulders, and wrists. pSpA may also cause inflammation in tendons in the hands and feet and where ligaments and tendons connect with bone .
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Try Natural Pain Remedies
Big Pharmas pain medications dont have a great safety track record. And thats putting it mildly.
In fact, in 2016, researchers found that anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen , naproxen and the prescription drug celecoxib re all equally dangerous for your heart.
On the other hand, natural pain relievers like white willow bark, bromelain, turmeric and devils claw have a safety track record that goes back thousands of years.
And studies show that herbs like these are at least as effective for reducing arthritis pain and inflammation.
Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.
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What Are The Causes And Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Lower Back
Arthritis in the lower back or lumbar spine arthritis is a common problem in older people. It can also happen in obese and overweight individuals, heavy laborers and anyone with a previous history of spinal injuries.
The vertebrae in your backbone are separated from each other by cushion-like spinal discs in front of the spinal cord, while behind it they are connected by 2 small joints called facet joints. These facet joints, along with the spinal discs, allow movements such as forward bending, arching your back, or sideways twisting.
Arthritis in the lower back happens when protective cartilage wears out because of wear and tear, aging, injury or misuse. Your vertebrae rub together or start pressing on a nearby spinal nerve, leading to local pain and swelling.
Usually when facet joints in your backbone become arthritic, movement and flexibility in your neck and back are affected and spinal movements become painful and stiff. This is lumbar spine arthritis, often seen together with other conditions such as spinal disc degeneration and spinal stenosis.
Arthritis in the lower back causes stiffness and pain in patients, especially in the early morning right after getting out of bed. Their backs may loosen up over the course of the day with light activity. Another typical feature is that symptoms often become worse with prolonged or strenuous activity.
Lower back arthritis is traditionally treated in several ways:
Causes Of Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis is typically the result of years of wear and tear that has caused deterioration of the joints and cartilage along the spine. Regrettably, we still do not know exactly why this happens. Even those who have taken good care of themselves are at risk of developing osteoarthritis of the spine.
However, there are several risk factors that may make you more susceptible to spinal arthritis:
- Spinal trauma or injury
- History of osteoarthritis in your family
- Working a job that caused repetitive stress on the back
- Other conditions such as diabetes, Lyme disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gout, psoriasis, or tuberculosis
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Surprising Facts About Back Pain And Arthritis Of The Spine
Back pain is surrounded by myths which often cloud simple facts. People with back pain are often told is that it is just wear-and-tear and youll have to put up with it or its probably arthritis. What do you expect at your age. This is not very helpful and often is plain wrong.
Many back sufferers are unclear if it is arthritis or not and what the best treatments and self-help strategies are. The surprising news is that arthritis is not as important as a cause of back pain as we once thought.
What Is Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis occurs when the cartilage, joints and discs in your neck and lower back break down.
It can affect any part of your spinal column and typically occurs in the facet joints, or vertebral joints.
Your facet joints are located in the rear part of your spine.
They connect your vertebrae together and make it possible for you to do things like bend, twist and stretch.
These joints are particularly prone to arthritis because of the pressure theyre under every day.
When the cartilage breaks down in your facet joints , daily activities can become more difficult.
If you have cervical arthritis, sometimes called neck arthritis, you will likely have pain in your neck and upper part of the spine.
Spinal osteoarthritis sufferers usually have neck pain as well as lower back pain. Low back pain can also be caused by lumbar arthritis.
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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.
Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of spinal arthritis. It usually affects the lower back and develops through wear and tear. As the cartilage between the joints slowly breaks down, it leads to inflammation and pain. Because the pain is from mechanical damage, it is typically more noticeable when you bend or twist your back. Past back injuries may also contribute to the development of degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Osteoarthritis of the spine usually affects the facet joints between the vertebrae. It is also known as facet joint arthritis, facet joint syndrome and facet disease. In some cases, degeneration of the spinal discs may contribute to facet joint arthritis. As discs between the vertebrae become thinner, more pressure is transferred to the facet joints. This leads to more friction and more damage to the cartilage.
When these degenerative changes occur in the neck, this condition is called cervical spondylosis. Arthritis in the neck doesnt always cause pain, and many people have no noticeable symptoms.
Recommended Reading: Mayo Clinic Arthritis Treatment
Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment May Include:
- MedicationsAs with more common osteoarthritis, treatment often begins with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications . Although most patients’ symptoms respond well to anti-inflammatory medication, these drugs do not treat the underlying disease. Sometimes medications are not strong enough.Unlike osteoarthritis, in inflammatory arthritis, certain medications can affect the actual disease. For example, TNF-blocking drugs may help block a protein that can cause inflammation . Adalimumab , etanercept and ixekizumab are three types of TNF-blockers that may stop disease progression.
- Physical therapy, therapeutic exercise Physical therapy stresses proper posture, joint mobility, and deep breathing. Some patients may develop forward posture therefore, postural training and extension exercise is helpful. Stretching and range of motion exercise helps keep the facet and rib joints mobile. Additionally, deep breathing expands the chest and aids lung function.
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.
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Why Is Lower Back Pain Such A Common Problem
The bottom part of your back typically has just five vertebrae fewer than your neck and mid-back. And these vertebrae do a lot of heavy lifting! Your lower back is where your spine connects to your pelvis, bearing the weight of your upper body. This area experiences a lot of movement and stress, which may lead to wear, tear and injuries.
Hot And Cold Treatments
Many people have found that hot and cold treatments help relieve back pain. You might try both to find out which works better for you. Heat relaxes muscles and soothes painful areas. There are many ways to apply heat. Some people like hot showers or baths, while others prefer using heat lamps, heating pads or warm compresses. If you have arthritis, heating your muscles first might make it easier for you to do back exercises. Be sure not to fall asleep while using heat. Cold has a numbing effect. This often helps relieve pain. You might try one of these methods for applying cold:
- an ice bag
- a large ice cube used to massage the area
- a frozen package of vegetables
- a commercially made cold pack.
- Be sure not to leave ice on after the skin becomes numb. This could lead to localized frostbite. Do not use cold if you are especially sensitive to it or
- have decreased circulation or sensation. Read the pain management article for more information about heat and cold.
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Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments dont sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
Treating Back Pain In Ulcerative Colitis
Treating back pain in ulcerative colitis can be complicated. Research shows that treating the underlying UC can help lessen the severity of spondyloarthritis, but it will not resolve spondyloarthritis and back pain. Back pain must be addressed separately and in a way that does not make a persons UC symptoms worse.
People with ulcerative colitis may need to work with both a rheumatologist and a gastroenterologist to manage their gastrointestinal and spinal health properly. These doctors may prescribe or recommend the following treatments and therapies.
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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
What Will Happen To Me
For most people low back pain is an unpleasant but common condition that settles down fairly quickly. This usually takes 1-2 weeks but can last several weeks for some people. After two months, 9 out of 10 people will have recovered. For many people, low back pain can return over the years but your experience and learnings from your previous bout can support you in returning to normal function more quickly.
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Questions To Ask The Doctor About Medications:
- What will the medication do?
- How long will it take before I notice results?
- What is the name of the medication? Is there a generic brand?
- Are there side effects I should know about?
- How should I take the medication ?
- How often should I take the medication?
- What should I do if I forget to take a dose at the specified time?
- Let your doctor know if you are taking other medications. Sometimes certain medications cannot be taken together.
Complications Of Ankylosing Spondylitis
The outlook for AS is highly variable. For some people the condition improves after an initial period of inflammation, whereas for others it can get progressively worse over time.
Some people with AS are able to remain fully independent or minimally disabled in the long-term.
However, some people eventually become severely disabled as a result of the bones in their spine fusing in a fixed position and damage to other joints, such as the hips or knees.
With modern treatments, AS does not normally affect life expectancy significantly, although the condition is associated with an increased risk of other potentially life-threatening problems.
For example, AS can lead to:
- weakening of the bones
- spinal fractures
Read about the complications of ankylosing spondylitis.
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Why Do Most Traditional Spinal Arthritis Treatment Options Fail
Most traditional treatment options fail to provide long-term pain relief because they only address your symptoms. They dont address the underlying cause of your condition.
Pain medications are like a Band-Aid. They may ease some of your discomfort and reduce inflammation, but they do nothing to fix your condition.
Most doctors will tell you that developing spinal arthritis (or any other type of degenerative arthritis is just part of the aging process.
Theyll say it cant be avoided.
And while its true that arthritis affects more than 90% of people over the age of 55 , this does not mean that developing a degenerative arthritis is inevitable.
And it certainly doesnt mean youre doomed to a life of pain or that youll need to rely on Big Pharmas solutions forever.
While theres no magic bullet that works for everyone, there are a lot of simple, all-natural therapies you can use right now to relieve your pain.
Important Considerations For People With Arthritis Of The Hip
There is no cure for arthritis. Typically, it starts gradually and worsens over time. Eventually, all forms of arthritis of the hip may permanently damage the hip joint. While osteoarthritis is more common in older people, there are forms of arthritis that affect younger people.
Fortunately, there are things that can be done to help minimize the effect of arthritis, and we are glad to discuss these option.
- 22% of the U.S. population in 2010 reported some form of arthritis
- Among adults over 65, 50% have some form of arthritis
- The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis
- Weight loss of just 11 pounds can reduce a womans risk of developing knee arthritis by 50%
- Of working age people , one-third of those who had arthritis reported it limited their ability to work
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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