Disk Degeneration And Bone Spurs
As the disks in the spine age, they lose height and begin to bulge. They also lose water content, begin to dry out and weaken. This problem causes settling, or collapse, of the disk spaces and loss of disk space height. Eventually, the cushioning qualities of the disks begins to decrease.
As the facet joints experience increased pressure, they also begin to degenerate and develop arthritis, similar to what may occur in the hip or knee joint. The smooth, slippery articular cartilage that covers and protects the joints wears away.
If the cartilage wears away completely, it can result in bone rubbing on bone. To make up for the lost cartilage, your body may respond by growing new bone in your facet joints to help support the vertebrae. Over time, this bone overgrowth called bone spurs may narrow the space for the nerves and spinal cord to pass through . Bone spurs may also lead to decreased range of motion in the spine.
Side view of a healthy cervical vertebra and disk. A disk that has degenerated and collapsed.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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How Your Back Works
The spine, which is also called the backbone or spinal column, is one of the strongest parts of the body and gives us a great deal of flexibility and strength.
Its made up of 24 bones, known as vertebrae, one sitting on top of the other. These bones have discs in between and lots of strong ligaments and muscles around them for support. There are also the bones in the tailbone at the bottom of the back, which are fused together and have no discs in between.
On either side of the spine, running from top to bottom, are many small joints called the facet joints.
The spinal cord passes inside the vertebrae, which protect it.
The spinal cord connects to the brain through the base of the skull and to the rest of the body by nerves that pass through spaces between the bones of the spine. These nerves are also known as nerve roots.
As you grow older, the structures of your spine, such as the joints, discs and ligaments, age as well. The structures remain strong but its usual for your back to get stiffer as you get older.
Self Care And Exercise To Treat Spine Osteoarthritis
Back pain from osteoarthritis can make a person feel helpless, but several steps can be taken at home to ease pain and improve spine function.
While self-care and exercise are considered safe for most people with spinal osteoarthritis, it is a good idea to consult with a doctor or physical therapist first. A health professional can consider a patients unique circumstances and provide advice about which home treatments will be the most safe and potentially beneficial.
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Effective Ways To Manage Arthritis Pain
Arthritis could be caused by about 100 different diseases, but it all leads to one main symptom: inflammation of the joints. Inflammation is the bodys way of fighting off injury or infection, and it is completely healthy for short periods of time. However, arthritis can cause severe, long-term inflammation which will eventually kill joint tissue.
If you are suffering from arthritis or osteoarthritis pain, always consult with your doctor, but listed below are steps that you can take at home to ease your symptoms.
What Causes Back Pain
Back pain is a general term, and people experience it in different waysfrom soreness and sharp pain to stiffness and achy joints. Common causes of back pain can include:
- Muscle atrophy or deconditioning of the muscles from wear and tear
- Poor posture
- Trauma from accidents and injury
- Genetics and aging
Back exercises and yoga for back pain are ways of strengthening and increasing mobility to your back that can help improve healing and your quality of life. TENS therapy can be used along with these practices to give relief for pain.
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Stop Thinking You Can’t Exercise
Many people who have arthritis are afraid if they’re active they’ll have more pain and so they just don’t get any exercise. This may be one of the biggest misconceptions about arthritis.
At the same time, it’s an ironic idea because inactivity actually makes pain and disability from arthritis worse over time, while regular exercise keeps joints moving and prevents stiffness, strengthens the muscles around the joints, and improves mobility.
So if you’ve been sedentary out of fear you’ll make your arthritis worse, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure it’s OK to exercise. Then start slowly with gentle, joint-friendly movements. It’s fine to respect your arthritis pain, but you don’t have to let it stop you.
When To See A Doctor
Even though it’s common, most cases of back pain tend to clear up without the need to see a doctor.
You should see your doctor if your pain:
- is really bad
- lasts for a long time
- stops you from working or doing the things you enjoy
- affects your everyday activities
- gets worse.
You should also see your doctor if you have any changes in sexual function, for example, being unable to get an erection.
If the pain is causing you significant problems and stops you from getting on with normal life and work activities, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions.
These questions will help predict how likely it is that you need further help with your back pain. If you do need further support, your doctor will make a referral to physiotherapy so that you can have treatment early, to help with the pain and return to normal activities.
Its natural to want to know what has caused your back pain. However, specialists may not be able to tell you for certain what has caused your back pain, even after carefully assessing you.
If youre concerned about the cause of your back pain, it can help to talk openly about any worries with a healthcare professional, as reducing any fear may help speed up your recovery.
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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
What Types Of Arthritis Can Affect Your Back
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of spinal arthritis, and the risk typically increases with age. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that cushions the ends of the joints wears away. As the cartilage degenerates, it can lead to pain and stiffness.
Spondyloarthritis is a term for different types of arthritis that share specific symptoms, typically inflammation in the spine. There are two main types of SpA: axial and peripheral .
Reactive arthritis is a kind of peripheral spondyloarthritis that occurs in response to an infection in your body, often caused by gastrointestinal conditions.
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Stop Fearing Medications That May Help
Arthritis patients sometimes avoid painkillers because they’re afraid they’ll become addicted to them, or they choose not to use biologic drugs because they fear potential serious side effects. Remember that your healthcare provider would never prescribe something that might hurt you or that you could become dependent on as long as you take it as directed.
Make sure you understand when and how much of your medication you should take, and how you should take it and your arthritis meds should do nothing more than make it easier for you to live comfortably.
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.
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Arthritis And The Spine
The spine is made up of small, individual bones called vertebrae. They have the task of providing support for the spine. In the spine, arthritis can cause pain and stiffness that you feel most often in your neck and lower back. Cervical arthritis affects the neck and upper part of the spine.
Arthritis is an inflammation and swelling of the joints. The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness, and these symptoms typically worsen as you get older. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, with a few being much more common than others.
Four types of arthritis that affect the spine are:
Facet joint syndrome: This arthritis-like condition is the result of the breakdown of the joints between the bones of the spine. It can cause significant neck and back pain. In patients with facet joint syndrome, the cartilage within the facet joints breaks down and becomes inflamed. This causes pain and irritation of the nearby nerves.
Degenerative changes that affect the spine can cause weight to shift unevenly, placing an extra burden on the joints, preventing them from moving smoothly and causing irritation. The irritated and inflamed joints can cause intense pain.
Spinal stenosis: This type of arthritis results from new bone and tissue growth on the spinal column, causing narrowing of the spinal canal. In patients with spinal stenosis, the nerve roots become pinched and irritated, leading to painful burning, numbing, and tingling sensations.
- Lower back
Try Muscle Balance Therapy
The principles of treatment address both the pain and the cause of your pain.
Through strategic body assessments, your individual muscle imbalances can be identified.
Once that is done, a very targeted corrective program can be designed for your specific needs. You can learn more about muscle balance therapy by watching the video below, or clicking right here.
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The Degenerative Disc Process
As people age, the compressing forces tend to greatly outnumber the decompressing forces placed on the discs. The forces of gravity and muscle contractions press the vertebrae together and compress the discs. Years and years of pressure dehydrate the discs and they shrink and wear down. In this degenerative condition the discs ability to absorb shock is compromised. As one part of the spine deteriorates, it directly affects nearby regions. Hence, as you lose disc height and function, the vertebral facet joints take on more of your body weight. Because these joints are constantly involved with spine motion, they wear down and lose cartilage, a process that is quickened as the joints take on additional weight loadswork that was intended for your discs. This deterioration process often results in bone spurs called osteophytes, and when the bone spurs cause pain, its often referred to as arthritis.
I am a mother of four and love to exercise and stay active. Surprisingly, a lot of my exercises and activities were contributing to my recurring back problems. Now, following the BACKFOREVER program, I am almost always completely pain free. When I do have the occasional mild flare up, I know how to end it myself, thanks to the knowledge I got from Dr. Jamess careful teaching. I am now more active than I was 10 years ago.
-Juliette Ferrell, Aspen, CO
How Is Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosed
There isnt a test that definitively diagnoses ankylosing spondylitis. After reviewing your symptoms and family history, your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam. Your provider may order one or more of these tests to help guide diagnosis:
- Imaging scans:Magnetic resonance imaging scans can detect spine problems earlier than traditional X-rays. Still, your provider may order spine X-rays to check for arthritis or rule out other problems.
- Blood tests: Blood tests can check for the presence of the HLA-B27 gene. About 8% of people of European descent have this gene, but only a quarter of them develop ankylosing spondylitis.
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Spinal Arthritis: Causes Symptoms And Treatments
Spinal arthritis can be a painful and debilitating problem for people over 40.
It causes stiffness and discomfort, which is usually more pronounced in the morning right when you wake up.
This is known as first movement pain and typically lasts for about 30 minutes.
The discomfort tends to lessen during the day as you go about your daily activities, then gets worse again at the end of the day.
This is likely because youre not active during the night, which leads to fluid accumulating in the affected facet joint or joints. This fluid build-up causes swelling.
If spinal arthritis is left untreated, it can lead to physiological problems such as muscle breakdown or weakness.
It can cause psychological problems too like anxiety and depression.
This is particularly common for people whose arthritis affects their quality of life or interferes with their ability to work.
Not everyone with spinal arthritis will experience pain in the same way.
Some experience low-grade chronic pain, while others may experience acute, sudden attacks of severe pain that limit their daily activities.
In the most serious cases, spinal arthritis sufferers are bedridden during acute attacks.
Natural Remedies For Arthritis Pain
Living with arthritis can be a rollercoaster both physically and emotionally. Many people with arthritis experience bouts of significant pain and inflammation, followed by periods of disease inactivity. Not knowing when arthritis pain will flare up can reduce your quality of life and take its toll on your mental health.
Being able tomanage arthritis pain effectively is key to preventing debilitating symptoms from affecting your daily life. If youre looking for a toolbox of arthritis management techniques, here are six proven ways to help ease pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
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Spinal Arthritis Causes And Risk Factors
The causes of arthritis in the back or neck vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Besides normal wear and tear and autoimmune triggers, in many cases the exact cause remains unknown. Genetic components have been identified in connection with some forms of spinal arthritis, meaning that it may be hereditary.
Other spinal arthritis risk factors include:
Presence of certain conditions such as diabetes, gout, psoriasis, tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome and Lyme disease