Prescription Medication And Surgery
If OTC medications arent easing your symptoms, your doctor may recommend corticosteroids or muscle relaxants. Corticosteroids are used to control inflammation, and muscle relaxants are used to minimize muscle spasms.
Your doctor will only recommend surgery as a last resort. Its typically only needed in cases where the bones have fused together or where the pain is so extreme that it prevents any range of motion.
Up Your Calcium Intake
Getting too little calcium raises the risk of osteoporosis, a brittle-bone condition that accelerates if you have RA. Men and women should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, 1,200 for women over 50 and men over 70. Dairy is the most famous source of calcium, but its also found in such veggies as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, and turnip greens. Here are 11 foods with more calcium than a glass of milk.
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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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.
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
Techniques For Good Posture:
- Sit in a firm chair with armrests to relieve pressure in your back and shoulders.
- Keep your upper back straight and shoulders relaxed. Keep stomach muscles pulled in, and maintain the proper curve in your lower back. You can do this by tightening your stomach and buttocks. Some people are more comfortable sitting with the back of the chair at a 15- to 20-degree angle. A small cushion behind the lower back to maintain the natural curve of the back also can be quite helpful.
- Keep your knees slightly higher than your hips.
- Use a footstool or book under your feet if necessary.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor or other surface.
- Don’t sit for a long period of time. Stand up every now and then to stretch tight muscles and give them a chance to relax.
- Stand with weight equal on both feet.
- Avoid locking your knees.
- Ease tension in your back by placing one foot on a footstool.
- If you stand for long periods of time, wear flat or low-heeled shoes.
- Keep your back straight by tightening your stomach muscles and buttocks.
Lie on your side with your knees bent.
- If more comfortable, place a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side.
- If you sleep on your back, ask your doctor or physical therapist if placing pillows under your knees would help your lower back pain or make it worse.
- Use a firm mattress.
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How Is Spinal Arthritis Treated
The treatment for spinal arthritis depends on many factors. They may include your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis and personal health goals. Because the joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, the treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
Nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling
Other medications targeting specific symptoms or triggers of inflammatory arthritis
Physical therapy to improve back muscle strength and range of motion in the spine
Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation or stress on your spine: losing weight, quitting smoking, changing your posture, etc.
Arthritis In Back Symptoms
Arthritis in back, also known as lumbar facet joint arthritis or lumbar spine arthritis is a known condition that can cause stiffness and pain to the joints found in the back and cause the surrounding tissues to become inflamed. Normally, the joints in the lumbar area or the back are are cushioned with a gel-filled disc and is protected with an outer covering known as cartilage. However, an arthritis condition can cause the cartilage to wear and tear and the discs to erode, thus resulting to irritation, friction, and pain and decreased flexibility in the back. Continue reading
Can This Injury Or Condition Be Prevented
OA occurs as you age, but is not a direct result of getting older. There are many factors that may put you at risk of developing OA, including your family history. Other factors include exposure to risks at work such as assuming prolonged or awkward positions and smoking. Regular conditioning and strengthening exercises will improve the ability of your muscles to work and may help prevent OA of the spine.
Symptoms Of Hip Arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis in the hips include:
- Pain and stiffness in the hips
- Stiffness after sitting for a while
- Stiffness when getting out of bed
- Feeling of grinding or crunching in the joint
- Difficulty bending or using the hips for physical activity
Some of these symptoms can also be shared with other conditions that cause hip pain like bursitis or tendinitis. A doctor can examine your symptoms and order tests like an MRI scan to confirm whether the source of your pain is arthritis.
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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:
- 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.
Spinal Cord Stimulation: An Alternative Or Adjunct To Medication For Spinal Osteoarthritis
If youve taken several medications for your spinal osteoarthritis with little relief, your doctor may recommend , also known as neuromodulation to help relieve your chronic back or neck pain.
Spinal cord stimulation generates mild electrical impulses that block pain signals from reaching your brain. Pain is perceived in the brain. Neuromodulation involves implanting a small generator either in your abdominal or buttock area and thin wires called leads into the spinal canal. Some patients are not candidates for SCS, such as people who are pregnant, have a heart condition, epilepsy or have an existing implanted device such as a pacemaker. If your doctor recommends SCS, the first step is a trial period where the system is temporarily worn outside your body. If your pain improves using the stimulator, the device may be implanted surgically.
For some patients, spinal cord stimulation also helps them reduce their dependence on opioids or other pain medications. If youre concerned about tapering or weaning off your pain medication, talk to your doctor about strategies that may ease this process.
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Ankylosing Spondylitis: A Type Of Spinal Inflammatory Arthritis
Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory spinal disease characterized by joint pain and progressive stiffness in the cervical , thoracic , lumbar , and sacroiliac joints . AS is also known as radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.
AS is categorized by enthesopathy, which means an inflammatory attack where tendons and ligaments attach to bones or joint capsules . In the spine, the primary site for this enthesis is where the long spinal ligament attaches to the front of the vertebrae. Inflammation of the enthesis is called enthesitis.
The onset of AS is usually seen in people ages 15 to 45 years. Early symptoms may be similar to arthritis low back and buttock pain and stiffness that are worse in the morning and night. Some patients experience loss of appetite and mild fevers.
The onset of AS is usually seen in people ages 15 to 45 years. Early symptoms may be similar to arthritis. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
Half Crunch On The Ball
Do 2 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.
Repeat 10 times.
The number of repetitions and sets recommended here are just thatrecommendations. You may do more or less depending on your ability. Remember that keeping good form is more important than doing multiple sets or repetitions. If you have questions about form, a doctor or physical therapist can help guide you.
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Is There A Connection Between Obesity And Arthritis
In many cases being obese can increase your chances of suffering from arthritis, and makes arthritis a more painful disease. In terms of osteoarthritis, obesity raises the risk of suffering from the condition because of the stress the excess weight places on the cartilage and joint. The more the joint is stressed the more likely the joint is to be worn down i.e. osteoarthritis. Once an obese individual has arthritis the additional weight will continue to cause even bigger problems. If you are wondering whether or not you are considered obese you can calculate your BMI here.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and ask you questions in order to form a clear picture of your individual situation. These questions may include:
- Your past and current health and use of medication.
- How you are functioning in your daily life.
- How your symptoms came about.
- How long you have had symptoms.
- Where the symptoms are located.
- How and when pain occurs.
Your physical therapist will then conduct a physical examination and may:
- Evaluate your posture and measure the range of motion of your spine.
- Assess the movement of the spine and extremities in the involved area.
- Check your nerve function with reflex, sensation, and strength testing.
- Observe how you move during commonly performed activities.
- Check your balance to determine your risk of falling.
The information learned in your evaluation will help your physical therapist prescribe a program to ease your discomfort, boost your quality of life, and get you moving your best.
If your physical therapist suspects that your pain might be caused by an underlying condition, they may request imaging testing such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI from your doctor. Your therapist may also refer you to your doctorfor further evaluation. Your physical therapist will work with your doctor to provide the best diagnosis and treatment.
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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.
Coping With Low Mood And Sleep Problems
Living with pain can affect your mood and sleep, and its normal to feel low from time to time. If this is something that affects you, try going along to a pain clinic, where you can learn how to manage your pain. Theyll usually take place at outpatient clinics, and you can be referred to them by whoever is treating you.
Pain can be affected by different things, including feeling low or stressed. There are a number of talking therapies and techniques you can learn, which can help you manage your pain, support your emotional wellbeing, and deal with any low feelings you might have. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy can help with osteoarthritis.
Learning to relax your muscles can also help, particularly if you have neck pain and are feeling stressed, as this can cause your muscles to become more tense.
A pillow thats too firm or thick can make neck pain worse. Try to sleep with your head level to the rest of your body. Its important to have a mattress that gives your head and spine proper support.
Try having a hot bath, reading a book, or listening to the radio or a relaxation CD to wind down before bed. If pain is waking you during the night, try taking paracetamol or another painkiller before bed. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert for more advice.
How Do I Treat My Spinal Or Back Osteoarthritis
Thankfully, there are some conservative treatment methods for spinal arthritis or degenerative disc disorder. Because the pain that osteoarthritis can cause has the potential to be so severe and debilitating its vital that its taken seriously. Treatment should vary on a case by case basis but most commonly consist around the idea of rest, heat/cold therapy, bracing, visiting a chiropractor, and medication.
Rest: So often the pain experienced through osteoarthritis is enhanced through physical activity. Because of this, it is vital that you recognize when your body needs to rest and relax. For example, sometimes sitting at the computer for extended periods of time can trigger major osteoarthritis pain, this especially true if you have bad posture. Letting your joints restore themselves will relieve pain and heal your body. So if you are suffering from osteoarthritis of the back and spine pain listen to your body and rest your joints.
Visiting a chiropractor: Having someone who is properly trained help manipulate your spine and back can work wonders on your arthritis. Chiropractors will work to realign your spine in a more conservative way rather than having surgery performed.
Medication: In more mild cases of osteoarthritis sometimes anti-inflammatory medication is what you need to rid yourself of the pain. Consult with a doctor for more details on the proper medications to treat arthritis.