How Common Is Ra Back Pain
When back pain is RA related, inflammation in the cervical spine is usually the cause.
RA primarily affects peripheral jointssuch as in the hands, feet, and kneesbut the cervical spine is the second most common region that’s affected.
The spine is affected when RA progresses. In other words, inflammation in the back and spine may indicate a more advanced disease. However, the damage can be seen on X-rays as early as two years after diagnosis.
A 2015 report suggests that more than 80% of people with RA have some cervical spine involvement.
Although pain in the lumbar spine, or low back, is not commonly a part of RA, it’s associated with RA. This means that if you have RA, it’s common to also have low back pain.
A 2013 study reported that up to 65.5% of people with RA may experience low back pain. The researchers also noted that people with RA who had low back pain reported lower quality of life and had an increased risk for depression.
A 2017 report in the German medical journal Zeitschrift für Rheumatologie also found that low back pain in those with RA led to a higher degree of disability.
Contact Spine Institute Of North America For Your Spinal Pain Consultation
No matter the level of spinal pain or discomfort you feel, Spine Institute of North America understands and is here to help. Our physicians specialize in alleviating back and joint pain and are committed to providing an honest, empathetic and personalized approach.
We are leaders in spine and joint pain, and we use the most cutting-edge technology and the least invasive techniques. To learn more about arthritis in the back and how we can help, call us at 609-371-9100 or set up an appointment for a consultation today.
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How Is Arthritic Back Pain Diagnosed
If you experience back pain that is severe or recurring, it is important to speak with a specialist. We are home to experts in a wide range of neck and spinal conditions who have years of experience evaluating, diagnosing, and treating arthritis. Your initial exam with one of our physicians will likely include the following:
- Medical history evaluation : Your physician will discuss your medical history with you and any relevant prior health problems
- Physical exam : Your doctor will evaluate the affected area and may ask you questions about where you are feeling pain or discomfort or when the pain first began
- Imaging tests : Your orthopedist will also likely conduct imaging studies to rule out bone fractures and accurately diagnose your back condition
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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.
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment Goals
The vast majority of people with degenerative disc disease experience low back pain symptoms that flare up periodically, but do not get worse over time. For those people, the main goals for managing lower back pain caused by degenerative disc disease are usually:
- Achieving enough pain relief to be able to engage in lower back pain exercises and a rehabilitation program
- Trying to manage the low back pain and maintaining an ability to function at home and at work.
Once a disc has degenerated, the degenerative process cannot be reversed. Instead of trying to rehabilitate the disc itself, treatment focuses on improving the health of surrounding structures, such as the spinal nerves, vertebral bones and joints, and supporting muscles and ligaments.
The main goals of the rehabilitation program include a therapist-guided and individual approach, which aim to2:
- Increase, restore, and/or maintain the range of motion in the affected spinal segment
- Build physical strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and endurance in the lower back and legs
- Guide patients to make ergonomic changes in their workspace and home to support the spine and prevent recurrence of pain
- Teach the correct use of posture while sitting, walking, sleeping, and lifting to promote maximum function with lesser pain
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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.
How Will Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Low Back Be Diagnosed
Your GP will be able to make a preliminary diagnosis by both listening to your symptom history and carefully examining the affected joints.
Further testing is normally needed to confirm the preliminary diagnosis. To do this your GP will refer you to a Rheumatologist . Your GP may also want to do a blood test to look for certain factors such as ESR and rheumatoid factor amongst others that are normally found in RA patients. This however is not a conclusive test but merely a strong indication of the conditions presence. An X-ray of the affected area is normally recommended to confirm the diagnosis, occasionally an MRI may be used to further evaluate the level and extent of the joint damage. Some GPs will use in clinic musculoskeletal ultrasound to identify the presence of the condition in a joint, however this is not always an available option.
The referral time to your Rheumatologist is normally well within three months. The earlier a diagnosis can be made and treatment started the better as any damage done to the joint is permanent.
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What Are The Complications Of Ra
Rheumatoid arthritis has many physical and social consequences and can lower quality of life. It can cause pain, disability, and premature death.
- Premature heart disease. People with RA are also at a higher risk for developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. To prevent people with RA from developing heart disease, treatment of RA also focuses on reducing heart disease risk factors. For example, doctors will advise patients with RA to stop smoking and lose weight.
- Obesity. People with RA who are obese have an increased risk of developing heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Being obese also increases risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Finally, people with RA who are obese experience fewer benefits from their medical treatment compared with those with RA who are not obese.
- Employment. RA can make work difficult. Adults with RA are less likely to be employed than those who do not have RA. As the disease gets worse, many people with RA find they cannot do as much as they used to. Work loss among people with RA is highest among people whose jobs are physically demanding. Work loss is lower among those in jobs with few physical demands, or in jobs where they have influence over the job pace and activities.
Inflammatory Back Pain Vs Mechanical Back Pain
Lower back inflammation is a symptom complex rather than a condition and often indicates inflammation of the vertebrae and/or joints of the spine.
But how can you know if your lower back pain is caused by inflammation or by a mechanical problem
Here are the major differences
- Pain persists for more than 3 months
- The back pain and stiffness tend to ease with physical activity and exercise
- NSAIDs are effective pain relievers
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What Happens In A Joint Affected By Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system can cause inflammation inside a joint or a number of joints. Inflammation is normally an important part of how your immune system works. It allows the body to send extra fluid and blood to a part of the body under attack from an infection. For example, if you have a cut that gets infected, the skin around it can become swollen and a different colour.
However, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, this inflammation in the joint is unnecessary and causes problems.
When the inflammation goes down, the capsule around the synovium remains stretched and cant hold the joint in its proper position. This can cause the joint to become unstable and move into unusual positions.
The following can play a part in why someone has rheumatoid arthritis:
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Your Lungs
The most common RA-related lung complication is interstitial lung disease , a condition that causes inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue. This illness can be hard to detect but occurs when lung tissue becomes inflamed and eventually scarred.
Its unclear exactly how many people with RA develop it, but French researchers presenting an abstract at the American College of Rheumatology annual conference in November 2020 found that the prevalence of subclinical ILD was 18 percent in people who had RA for a dozen years. Other studies put the figure at over 50 percent.
This scarring makes it harder for oxygen in the lungs to enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs. The condition can cause breathlessness and coughing, but it can also be asymptomatic. If untreated, it can progress to pulmonary fibrosis, in which tissues are permanently scarred.
Research also shows that RA sufferers are at double the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD , in which the air sacs cant expand as easily and become clogged with mucus. There is no cure for COPD, although inhalers and steroids can help open airways.
Pleurisy is another condition with increased risk. Here, the pleura the tissue surrounding the lungs becomes inflamed, which can lead to fluid buildup at the base of the lungs.
People with RA may also develop nodules in the lungs, though they may not be bothered by them.
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Treating Spinal Osteoarthritis May Take A Combination Of Therapies
Talk with your doctor about your neck and/or back pain to make sure your diagnosis is accurate and current. Remember that certain types of back problems are degenerative, meaning they may change, improve, or worsen with time. Management of your spinal arthritis pain may involve more than 1 medication or therapy. You have choices, and your doctor can work with you to find the right drug or combination of medications and therapies to ease your spinal osteoarthritis symptoms.
Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Arthritis Pain. Arthritis Foundation Web site. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/electrical-stimulation-knee.php. Accessed October 29, 2018.
Related Conditions That Cause Tingling Numbness Or Weakness
Osteoarthritis can stimulate muscle spasms, the growth of bone spurs, or other degenerative changes that cause the spinal cord or its nerve roots to become compressed. When the spinal cord or a nerve root is squeezed, the entire area it travels to can be affected.
Osteoarthritic-related conditions that affect the spinal nerve roots include:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis, which occurs when the size of the bony opening for a spinal nerve root in the lower back is reduced. Lumbar spinal stenosis causes the affected nerve root to become irritated or compressed as it exits the spine. A person may experience tingling, weakness, or numbness that radiates from the lower back into the buttocks, thighs, leg, and/or foot. When nerve roots between L4 to S3 in the lumbar spine are affected, the symptoms and signs are often referred to as sciatica.
Read When to See a Surgeon for Spinal Stenosis on Spine-health.com
In most but not all cases, the symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis come and go, becoming worse and more frequent over months or years. If back pain comes on suddenly, it is more likely to be caused by a strained muscle or other trauma or condition, and not by spine osteoarthritis.
Early recognition of symptoms and appropriate treatment can dramatically slow or eliminate the progression of osteoarthritis symptoms.
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How Is Ra Diagnosed
RA is diagnosed by reviewing symptoms, conducting a physical examination, and doing X-rays and lab tests. Its best to diagnose RA earlywithin 6 months of the onset of symptomsso that people with the disease can begin treatment to slow or stop disease progression . Diagnosis and effective treatments, particularly treatment to suppress or control inflammation, can help reduce the damaging effects of RA.
How To Prevent Arthritis
When it comes to arthritis, there are some widespread misconceptions about it. Many people might think arthritis is something that happens to random individuals without any rhyme or reason. Theres no preventing it, and youll either develop it or you wont. Others might think its entirely genetic, and so the chances of developing it are deciding by our family history.
Maybe youre a long-time arthritis patient. Maybe youre just beginning to feel stiffness in your joints, and youre wondering if you might be experiencing the beginnings of arthritis. Or maybe youre just curious, and youre wondering if there are any steps you can take to prevent yourself from developing this condition in the first place.
Whatever the case may be, its always best to be well-informed. Thats why weve put together a guide to arthritis. Here, well talk about what it is, what causes it and what steps you can take to prevent yourself from developing it, or else what steps you can take to help lessen your symptoms.
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How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Middle Back
RA can cause inflammation in the facet joints, which could lead to pain in the middle or upper back.
If a person does not get treatment, this could also cause spondylolisthesis, a condition that occurs when a vertebra slips out of position. Although spondylolisthesis usually affects the lower back, it can cause pain in the middle or upper back as well.
What To Know About Arthritis In Back
Arthritis in back is a common condition of the spine or the lumbar are that may result to various symptoms. Arthritis condition in the back is often seen in elders, but this may affect individuals from different age groups. However, individuals who are at high risk to this condition include the following:
- Obese individuals
- Those who experienced spine injuries
Arthritis in back is a common condition that affects the joint that connects the spinal segments or the vertebrae. The spines vertebrae are connected to each other in three different places. On the front part of the spinal cord, vertebrae are separated the the cushion-like spinal disc. Right behind it, the vertebrae are connected with two small joints known as the facet joints. These joints, together with the spinal disc, permit spinal movements including the arching of the back, twisting sideways and bending forward.
Considered as the most common form of arthritis that usually occur in the back or the spine is osteoarthritis. This is also known as the wear-and-tear arthritis. In case this type of arthritis occurs in the back, experts refer to it as spondylosis. Once the spinal joint starts to become arthritic, the movement of the spine may become stiff and painful. Back or lumbar spine arthritis is often prevalent accompanied by other health conditions that involve the spine, which include:
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest and pain relievers. Back pain that doesnt go away may be a sign of a more serious condition.
See your provider if you have:
- Pain that doesnt get better after about a week of at-home care.
- Tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in your buttocks or legs.
- Severe pain or muscle spasms that interfere with your normal activities.
- Fever, weight loss, bowel or bladder problems or other unexplained symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Millions of people live with low back pain. Stiffness, pain and limited movement can have a major impact on quality of life. But you may be able to avoid lower back pain by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. Talk to your provider if back pain doesnt go away or if youre unable to do the activities you enjoy. Several treatments can relieve pain, help you move better and get more out of life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/18/2021.
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