Arthritis of the Back
Arthritis in the back occurs when one or more of the joints between vertebrae become inflamed. Osteoarthritis in the back is also known as spondylosis or degenerative arthritis, and it occurs as the cartilage in the joints and the discs between vertebrae breakdown or become irritated. Since the vertebral column houses the spinal cord and contains exit and entrance tunnels for most nerves in the body, inflammation in any area of the spine can cause widespread pain due to the affect it has on those nerves. The areas of the back affected by arthritis are the sacral (pelvic region), lumbar spine (lower back), and thoracic spine(mid/upper back).
Symptoms of arthritis in the back
- Pain and/or stiffness in the back
- Numbness or weakness in legs or feet
- Grinding or popping sounds
- Muscle spasms in nearby muscles
Causes of arthritis in the back
Degeneration of discs between vertebrae: the discs lose water with age, decreasing the height of the space between vertebrae. Facet joints are subjected to more pressure. They begin to degenerate and develop arthritis as their cartilage covering is worn down.
- Injury or trauma to a joint
- Genetic defects in cartilage
Risk Factors of arthritis in the back
- Family history of back pain or cartilage-related genetic defects
- Previous injury or trauma to the spine
- Jobs or hobbies with frequent lifting or moving of objects
Complications with arthritis of the back
- Irritation of nerves exiting the spine may cause sharp pains radiating down the legs
- Impaired bladder and bowel function may occur if the nervous system is damaged
- Bone spurs may form around the vertebrae
Prevention of arthritis in the back
- Practice good posture during everyday activities
- Move heavy objects with proper body mechanics
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stretch regularly
Things to do at home for arthritis of the back
- Ice, heat
- Do exercises prescribed by a physical therapist for stretching and strengthening weakened or strained muscles
Treatment of arthritis in the back
We use the following approaches to relieve arthritis symptoms in the back:
- ASTR® Tools: Our doctors use a variety of ASTR® tools to release scar tissue and myofascial restriction, which can decrease mobility and flexibility.
- Special exercise program to decrease pain, strengthen the muscles, stabilize and help the patient to return to normal function and activities.
- Special instructions on how to speed up the recovery time.
- Cold Laser Therapy: Tissue inflammation is common with arthritis in the back. Cold laser is used in order to decrease inflammation that causes pressure on the affected area.