Spinal Arthritis: What You Need To Know
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, but is more frequent in the lower back and neck.
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
What Does Arthritis Pain Feel Like
Are you wondering if the pain and stiffness in your hips, knees, or fingers are caused by arthritis? Heres how you and your doctor can decide.
Hardly anyone escapes the annoyance of occasional aches and pains, especially as they age. But persistent joint pain and stiffness can be signs of arthritis, which affects more than 54.4 million American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . By 2040, an estimated 78 million American adults are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
Dont Miss: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Back Pain
Stop Eating An Unhealthy Diet
Whatâs your diet got to do with arthritis? Eating well and maintaining your ideal weight is especially important if youâve got arthritis. Excess pounds can put lots of stress on weight-bearing joints, which is likely to make arthritis pain worse. Even moderate weight gain can stress joints that are already burdened by arthritis.
Dont Miss: Can You Get Rheumatoid Arthritis In Your Back
Don’t Miss: Does Aleve Help With Back Pain
What You Should Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is the one of the most debilitating type of arthritis because it can cause severe deformity and disability. Its actual cause is unknown however, it is thought to develop when white blood cells, whose normal duty is to provide immunity, turn against the synovial membrane causing inflammation of this membrane. This inflammation triggers the release of chemicals causing the synovial membrane to thicken. Over time, these chemicals and enzymes can destroy cartilage, bone, tendon, and ligaments.
When To Get Medical Advice
See a GP if you think you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, so they can try to identify the underlying cause.
Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis quickly is important, because early treatment can prevent it getting worse and reduce the risk of joint damage.
Find out more about diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis.
Don’t Miss: Will Aleve Help Back Pain
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.
- When sleeping,
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.
How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Back Pain
In terms of spine involvement, RA primarily affects the cervical spine, which is located at the top of the spinal cord and forms your neck. While it is possible for the middle or lower back to be affected, this is considered rare.
If a patient with established RA comes to me with pain in the mid or lower back, Im less likely to think their symptoms are directly related to RA, Dr. Bolster says.
Heres the reason that the cervical spine is more commonly affected: In RA, the immune system attacks the synovium, the thin membrane that lines your joints its the main site of the inflammatory process in rheumatoid arthritis.
The spines top two vertebrae, C1 and C2, are synovial-lined joints, and are therefore subject to developing the inflammation and joint erosion you experience in your peripheral joints.
Its unclear how many people with RA have cervical spine involvement. It typically develops in the later stages of RA, but Dr. Bolster says it has been reported earlier.
My back pain started pretty quickly, within the first year of my RA diagnosis, says CreakyJoints community member Lisa Powell, who experiences both cervical and lumbar back pain. My doctor hasnt totally ruled out that osteoarthritis might be the cause of the damage to my lower back, but the pain there seems very tied to my RA symptoms. It gets worse when my RA is flaring or isnt well controlled.
Read Also: Is Advil Good For Back Pain
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 .
Will I Need Surgery For Arthritis
Healthcare providers usually only recommend surgery for certain severe cases of arthritis. These are cases that havent improved with conservative treatments. Surgical options include:
- Fusion: Two or more bones are permanently fused together. Fusion immobilizes a joint and reduces pain caused by movement.
- Joint replacement: A damaged, arthritic joint gets replaced with an artificial joint. Joint replacement preserves joint function and movement. Examples include ankle replacement, hip replacement, knee replacement and shoulder replacement.
You May Like: Are Eggs Bad For Psoriatic Arthritis
Read Also: Advil For Back Pain Dosage
Surgery For Neck Arthritis
Surgery is usually a last resort for neck arthritis, says Dr. Milani. Your doctor may recommend it if you have severe pain that isnt relieved with nonsurgical treatment or if you have signs of neurologic injury. Surgery may be needed if the arthritis causes instability, or more importantly, impingement of nerves and/or the spinal cord, says Dr. Shah.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Back Pain: Symptoms And Treatments
There are many potential causes for back pain, including injuries, strain, or even physical exercise. But when aches last for weeks or months, it may be time to rule out temporary injury and start looking for an underlying condition.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis a chronic autoimmune disease best known for causing inflammation and damage in the hands, wrists, and knees you may think your condition is also having a negative effect on your spinal health. In some cases, this may be true, but for the most part, spinal changes in people with RA are not due to inflammatory arthritis.
Heres what to know, including other potential causes of your back pain, and ways to find relief.
You May Like: Advil Or Aleve For Back Pain
Back Pain: Acute Vs Chronic
Before looking at treatments for your back pain, youll need to know if you have acute or chronic back pain.
Acute back pain is usually a result of straining your back. It can be treated with medication and usually will get better over time. Exercise isnt recommended.
Chronic back pain is different. Its a long-term problem caused by conditions like RA. It can be treated in a number of ways, and exercise can be beneficial.
How Can You Live With Arthritis In Your Back Spinal Arthritis Treatment
Arthritis can affect any joint in your body, including your spine. Arthritis in the back can be extremely painful and in some cases debilitating. Inflammation and stiffness can make it difficult to walk, stand, or even sit.
While living with spinal arthritis can be very difficult, there are effective ways to manage and deal with the condition.
Read Also: Advil Or Ibuprofen For Back Pain
Does Arthritis Hurt All The Time
Overview. Many people who have arthritis or a related disease may be living with chronic pain. Pain is chronic when it lasts three to six months or longer, but arthritis pain can last a lifetime. It may be constant, or it may come and go.
Join our Business, Advices & Skills Community and share you ideas today !
Osteoarthritis is likely if:
- You are over 45
- You have pain and stiffness in one or more of the joints commonly affected by osteoarthritis
- The stiffness in the morning lasts for less than 30 minutes
- The stiffness and pain are worse with exercise or using the joints, for example after gardening
Often no special tests are needed to diagnose osteoarthritis, but sometimes blood tests may be taken to make sure that nothing else is wrong and sometimes X-rays can help confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes MRI scans are used but these are usually not necessary. X-rays of the neck and low back are not useful in diagnosing osteoarthritis because they often show changes that happen normally with age and many people with these changes have no pain.
You May Like: Arthritis Drugs Side Effects
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.
Don’t Miss: Is Aleve Good For Lower Back Pain
Pain Relief For Rheumatoid Arthritis Associated Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain may not spring to mind as one of the more common problems linked to the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, or RA. But this is indeed the case, and relief for RA-associated back pain is both necessary and available, according to Interventional Pain Management Specialist , of Atlantic Spine Center.
Affecting more than 1.3 million Americans and as much as 1% of the population worldwide, RA is among the most prevalent autoimmune disorders, according to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. RA patients experience symptoms when the bodys antibodies mistakenly attack normal synovial joint fluid, triggering chronic inflammation.
Because the neck, or cervical spine, includes several synovial joints, RA-associated chronic pain more often results in this part of the spine. And while RA can cause swelling and pain in joints throughout the body, the resulting inflammation can destroy facet joints which support movement and flexibility down the length of the spine. This can lead to severe pain in the neck and back.
When Back Pain May Mean Arthritis
Many forms of arthritis and related conditions can cause back pain, stiffness and swelling.
About 80% of back pain is acute and usually lasts one to seven days. Otherwise, its considered chronic and may be caused by arthritis. The lower back is the most common site of arthritis back pain. Several types of arthritis are part of a group of conditions called spondylarthropathies . Spondylarthropathies can affect adults and children.
If you are experiencing pain, swelling and stiffness in the back, you may have one of the following types of arthritis or related conditions.
Axial spondyloarthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects hip joints and the joint that connects the bone at the bottom of the spine to the pelvis .
There are two types of axSpA: Radiographic axSpA includes damage to the sacroiliac joints and spine that can be seen on X-rays, and nonradiographic axSpA does not include damage you can see on X-rays but it may show up on magnetic resonance images .
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects joints and usually the skin . For about 20 percent of people with PsA, the disease involves the spine . In some cases, bony overgrowth can cause two or more vertebrae to grow together , causing stiffness.
Getting a Proper Diagnosis
Recommended Reading: Is Motrin Good For Back Pain
Chronic Back Pain Support Therapy
A range of therapies can help support your back-pain treatment. For instance, physiotherapy could improve your flexibility and muscle strength.
Occupational therapy might also be useful. This kind of therapy teaches you joint protection strategies. An example might be how to pick up and carry objects without causing back pain.
Chiropractic therapy usually isnt recommended for people with RA who are experiencing back pain.
Appropriate exercise can help take pressure off of your back and keep joints supple if youre experiencing chronic back pain due to RA. Exercise also helps maintain overall body health.
The recommends exercises like walking and stretching to help ward off back pain. Activities like tai chi and water-based exercises like swimming or water aerobics also can be helpful.
Always consult a doctor before starting any fitness program for your back pain.
What Imaging Techniques May Be Used To Diagnose Arthritis
Imaging techniques may give your healthcare provider a clearer picture of what is happening to your joint. Imaging techniques may include the following:
X-ray. X-rays may show joint changes and bone damage found in some types of arthritis. Other imaging tests may also be done.
Ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves to see the quality of synovial tissue, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Magnetic resonance imaging . MRI images are more detailed than X-rays. They may show damage to joints, including muscles, ligaments, and cartilage.
Arthroscopy. This procedure uses a thin tube containing a light and camera to look inside the joint. The arthroscope is inserted into the joint through a small incision. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen. It is used to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint to detect bone diseases and tumors to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation, and to treat certain conditions.
Recommended Reading: Advil Good For Back Pain
Can Arthritis Cause Back Pain
Arthritis is a joint disorder causing pain, tenderness, swelling, and limited movements of one or more joints. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, while there are many other forms too. One of the questions commonly asked is can arthritis cause back pain? Well, the answer to this is yes, arthritis can be a cause of your back pain in various ways. Let us understand this in detail.
Around 80% of Americans have an episode of low back pain during their lifetime. Low back pain is one of the most common causes of healthcare visits in the United States, accounting for over 45 million trips in 2006.1
Arthritis commonly affects the hands and the legs but can also affect the spine. Moreover, there is also a chance that arthritis of the other joints or other types of arthritis can cause back pain. It is important to understand the conditions related to arthritis that can cause back pain, associated factors, and what studies say about the correlation.
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.
Don’t Miss: How Much Advil Can I Take For Back Pain
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.
What Can I Do
Learn about back pain and play an active role in your treatment. Not all information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. Reliable sources of further information are also listed in the section below. Self-management courses aim to help you develop skills to be actively involved in your healthcare. Contact your local Arthritis Office for details of these courses.
Stay active and healthy. Your back is designed for movement. Continuing with your normal activities or returning to them as soon as you can will help you recover from a bout of back pain. Some pain with activity is normal but does not mean it is causing harm. You may need to rest or reduce some activities when the pain is excessive. But resting for more than a day or two usually does not help and may do more harm than good. See a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist for advice about exercises to keep your back moving. If you are carrying extra kilos, losing weight with the help of a dietitian may be of benefit, as may be strategies to reduce stress and anxiety.
Learn ways to manage pain. There are many things you can try, including
Acknowledge your feelings and seek support. It is natural to feel worried, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry when you have pain. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life.
Don’t Miss: Advil For Lower Back Pain