How Arthritis In The Back Is Diagnosed
Diagnosing arthritis in the back begins with taking your medical history and doing a physical exam of your back and legs to assess your mobility/flexibility and make sure your nerves are working properly. The doctor will ask questions about:
- Where the pain is occurring
- How long the pain has lasted
- What the pain feels like/how severe it is
- What situations/activities make the pain feel better or worse
- How the pain is affecting/limiting your daily function
Imaging tests are usually needed to help confirm a diagnosis of arthritis. X-rays are typically the first imaging test ordered. They can joint damage/bone spurs, but cannot show damage to soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, or bulging discs. Other tests may be ordered to look for changes or damage that is not visible on X-rays. These may include MRI, CT, ultrasound, bone scans, or other tests as needed. The gold standard to diagnose arthritis in the back is actually an injection called a medial branch block, but its not often necessary, says Dr. Kirschner.
If your doctor suspects you could have a type of inflammatory arthritis, they may order blood tests to look for signs of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein or erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
Other blood tests may look for genetic markers associated with axial spondyloarthritis, such as HLA-B27, or antibodies associated with rheumatoid arthritis .
Early Signs Of Arthritis And When To See A Doctor
Although there are several different types of arthritis that people suffer from, they all involve joint pain in one or more regions of the body.
Oftentimes, arthritis pain comes on gradually, and individuals learn to live with the pain on a daily basis.
Untreated arthritis can result in severe and permanent joint damage, so it is in a patients best interest to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Here is a discussion of the early signs of arthritis, as well as the average early onset arthritis age and when its time to see a doctor based upon the first signs of arthritis observed.
What Is A Joint And How Does It Work
A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as in the fingers, knees, and shoulders. Joints hold bones in place and allow them to move freely within limits.
Most of the joints in our body are surrounded by a strong capsule. The capsule is filled with a thick fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. These capsules hold our bones in place. They do this with the help of ligaments. These are a bit like very strong elastic bands.
The ends of the bones within a joint are lined with cartilage. This is a smooth but tough layer of tissue that allows bones to glide over one another as you move.
If we want to move a bone, our brain gives a signal to the muscle, which then pulls a tendon, and this is attached to the bone. Muscles therefore have an important role in supporting a joint.
Recommended Reading: How To Treat Swollen Joints In Fingers
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Arthritis Of The Knee
It might be helpful to arrive at your healthcare providers office with a list of questions you want or need to be answered. Consider:
- Do I have arthritis in one knee or both?
- What type of arthritis do I have?
- Whats a possible cause of my arthritis?
- What treatments do you recommend?
- What medications should I take?
- Do I need physical therapy?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Knee arthritis can affect people of all ages. Its painful, impairs movement and causes swelling of the joint. Some people are so disabled by it that they cant work anymore. Others can only work after surgery. Meanwhile, for others, the pain isnt necessarily as bad, but it still prevents them from regular activities like cleaning, gardening and running after their kids.
Arthritis of the knee can decrease your quality of life. The good news is that treatments can lessen the severity of your symptoms. The pain and swelling might not be as bad. See your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if you have symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/18/2021.
Exercising At Home Or Work
The best knee exercises may be the ones you can do at home or even during a break at the office. Theyre easy, effective, and convenient, and dont require any special equipment. Do them slowly and gradually increase the number of repetitions as your muscles get stronger.
Afterward, be sure to do a few gentle stretching exercises to help prevent your muscles from tightening up. Consider exercising your knees every other day to give sore muscles a rest.
Read Also: Can Knee Replacement Cause Neuropathy
Also Check: Joint Pain Medical Term
What Symptoms Look And Feel Like And What To Do If You Cant Shake The Ache
by Michelle Crouch, AARP, Updated December 20, 2021
En español |Its not unusual to experience pain in your joints on occasion, especially if youre active and participate in high-impact activities such as running. That unwanted ouch can be caused by injured muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint or by tendonitis, a sprain or a strain.
But if you start experiencing aching, pain and stiffness on a routine basis and particularly if the pain is right at the joint you may be developing arthritis, says rheumatologist Uzma Haque, M.D., codirector of clinical operations at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore.
Your risk of arthritis increases as you age, and its a leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting around 58.5 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Read Also: Bioknee Cost
Psoriatic Arthritis: Flares And Fatigue
Psoriatic arthritis might cause fatigue in several ways. In part, the disease process itself may be to blame.
When you have psoriatic arthritis, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Those proteins trigger inflammation throughout your body a hallmark of the disease. Researchers believe the cytokines also cause fatigue, perhaps through several different pathways in your body.
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms come and go. Sometimes, they are relatively mild. Other times, the pain and swelling become significant. Those bad periods are known as flares. And when a flare occurs, fatigue often comes along for the ride.
You May Like: Symptoms Of Arthritis
Also Check: Psoriatic Arthritis Rash Hands
What Is Aching Legs A Symptom Of
- The majority of cases of leg pain are caused by degeneration, excessive usage, or injury to the joints or bones, as well as to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, or other soft tissues.
- It may be possible to trace certain forms of leg discomfort back to issues in your lower spine.
- There are a number of conditions that can lead to leg discomfort, including blood clots, varicose veins, and poor circulation.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA results from a problem with the immune system. When a persons immune system is healthy, it helps to fight infection. In people with RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the lining of their joint, resulting in inflammation of the joints, making them swollen, stiff, and painful.
People who have RA will have some periods where they experience no symptoms and other times when the symptoms flare up.
Currently, there is no cure for RA, but proper treatment and moderate exercise may help reduce flares. If RA is left untreated, the joints, cartilage, and bones in affected areas can become damaged.
Recommended Reading: Best Treatment For Arthritis In Fingers
What Is Arthritic Joint Pain
Arthritis is a condition in which one or more joints become swollen and painful. The most prominent symptoms of arthritis are pain and stiffness in the joints, both of which normally get worse with increasing age. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two forms of arthritis that are diagnosed most frequently.
Depression And Mood Changes
According to the Mayo Clinic, RA and depression commonly occur together. Doctors dont know whether depression and anxiety in people with RA are a result of the physical symptoms, or if depression is itself a symptom caused by the chronic, systemic inflammation of the disease. But doctors do know that if the depression isnt addressed and treated, the treatment for the arthritis can be less effective.
If you suspect your symptoms could be rheumatoid arthritis, you should get to a doctor promptly. Your primary care doctor is usually a good place to start. If they suspect RA or a related disease, they may refer you to a rheumatologist for further testing. A rheumatologist is a specialist who treats musculoskeletal and certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.
Don’t Miss: 5 Stages Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Loss Of Joint Range Of Motion
As the joints of rheumatoid arthritis become more inflamed with active disease, they tend to have an incomplete range of motion. The range of motion is limited by the swelling within the joint. This is typically associated with weakness in the involved areas.
- Joints affected by longstanding rheumatoid arthritis commonly lose range of motion permanently.
What Are The Less Common Forms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can begin in less common forms. For example, it can begin with the involvement of only a single joint or a few joints. Sometimes, this can later evolve to the more common presentation of many joints on both sides of the body.
- Rarely, the earliest symptom of rheumatoid disease is inflammation of a body area that does not even involve a joint. For example, the lining of the lungs can become inflamed to cause pleurisy many months before arthritis develops.
- Occasionally, only a few joints are involved and the doctor may suspect another type of inflammatory arthritis. Again, this can sometimes only later evolve to become the more typical symmetrical polyarthritis by including many joints on both sides of the body.
- The caveat is that by recognizing the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis rheumatologists and their patients can address the disease early, thereby affording optimal outcomes for those affected.
You May Like: Psoriatic Arthritis Hands Rash
Read Also: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Back
Can Arthritis Cause Numbness
Numbness is often a symptom of nerve involvement. For instance, numbness in the arm may be related to nerve irritation in the neck. In such a situation, turning or bending the head to the involved side may increase the symptoms. For example, a pinched nerve in the right side of the neck may cause numbness in the arm and hand when a person attempts to look back over the right shoulder. If nerve irritation becomes more severe, the arm and hand may become weak. A physical examination X-rays and an MRI of the neck and electrodiagnostic tests may be useful in establishing the diagnosis.
Swelling Crepitus And Locking
There can also be swelling in one or more joints, in which case joints may be tender to the touch. Another characteristic of OA is crepitus, a crunching or grating feeling, which includes the sound of bone rubbing on bone.
It is also not uncommon for joints affected by OA to “lock” to the point that you will be unable to move the joint.
Don’t Miss: Mayo Clinic On Arthritis
Orthopedic Doctors In Raleigh Apex And Brier Creek North Carolina
You dont have to live with the pain and limited mobility of hip arthritis. Our own board-certified, fellowship-trained, and Duke-educated orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brett Gilbert can help you achieve lasting relief.
Dr. Gilberts goal is to provide compassionate care, technical expertise, and personalized attention to patients with hip or knee issues. Our clinic offers effective orthopedic medical care for a wide variety of knee and hip conditions using state-of-the-art technology and advanced treatment options, including:
- Minimally Invasive Total Hip Replacement
- MAKOplasty Robotic-Assisted Joint Replacement
- Hip Revision Surgery
- Outpatient Hip Replacement
To learn more about these effective treatment options, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gilbert by calling our office today at or by filling out our simple online request form now. We look forward to helping you get back to your active lifestyle without joint pain!
Treatment Goals: Manage Pain And Improve Function
Osteoarthritis treatment plans often include exercise, rest and joint care, pain relief, weight control, medicines, surgery, and complementary treatment approaches. Current treatments for osteoarthritis can relieve symptoms such as pain and disability, but there are no treatments that can cure the condition.
Although health care professionals can prescribe or recommend treatments to help you manage your arthritis, the real key to living well with the disease is you. Research shows that people with osteoarthritis who take part in their own care report less pain and make fewer doctor visits. They also enjoy a better quality of life.
You May Like: Symptoms Of Arthritis In Your Hands
How Do You Treat Arthritis In The Legs
In many instances, the symptoms of arthritis can be alleviated by taking the following precautions:
What Are The Stages Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are five stages of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis that affects your knees:
- Stage 0 . If youre at stage 0, your knees are healthy. You dont have arthritis of the knee.
- Stage 1 . Stage 1 means that youve got some wear and tear in your knee joint. You probably wont notice pain.
- Stage 2 . The mild stage is when you might start to feel pain and stiffness, but theres still enough cartilage to keep the bones from actually touching.
- Stage 3 . If youre at the moderate stage, youll have more pain, especially when running, walking, squatting, and kneeling. Youll likely notice it after long periods of rest . You’re probably in a great deal of pain because the cartilage has narrowed even further and there are many bone spurs.
- Stage 4 . Severe osteoarthritis means that the cartilage is almost gone. Your knee is stiff, painful and possibly immobile. You might need surgery.
Read Also: Arthritis Symptoms In Arms
How Is Jia Treated
When JIA is diagnosed early and treated appropriately, it can usually be managed effectively. There’s no cure, but there’s a lot doctors can do to ease the symptoms of JIA and prevent or limit damage to joints.
For some people, taking medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation. Some patients need to take a weekly medication called methotrexate. Newer medications such as etanercept, adalimumab, abatacept, and tocilizumab can keep the immune system in check and control the disease far better than was possible a few years ago. For arthritis flare-ups, doctors may also use medicines called corticosteroids , but they try to limit these to avoid side effects.
Physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility and the use of heat can help people with JIA control symptoms. It’s rare that joints get damaged in a person’s teens, but surgery can repair damaged joints if needed.
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.
Also Check: Arthritis Flare Up In Hands
What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Arthritis In My Hands
There is no cure for arthritis. However, you can usually manage mild to moderate symptoms with a combination of medication and non-medication approaches. Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail or the arthritis in your hands is severe. Your healthcare provider will explain what outcome you can expect for your type and severity of arthritis, your age, other existing medical conditions and other factors.
What Type Of Doctors Treat Arthritis
Part of your treatment plan may involve working with different health-care specialists. Some common health-care professionals and their role in your treatment are described below. Most doctors make referrals to one of a group of health professionals with whom they work. But you too can ask your doctor to request medical services you think might help you.
Your family doctor may be an excellent source of medical care for your arthritis. Besides having your medication records, your family doctor already has your medical history, is familiar with your general physical health and knows of any past illnesses or injuries. All these facts will give your family doctor a head start in prescribing a treatment plan most suited to your needs.
If your arthritis affects many joints or other parts of the body or seems resistant to treatment, you may benefit from seeing a rheumatologist. This is a doctor with special training and experience in the field of arthritis. Your family doctor, the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation or the county medical society can refer you to a rheumatologist. You can also search for a rheumatologist on the American College of Rheumatology web site.
Also Check: Finger Arthritis Relief