General Signs And Symptoms Of Spinal Osteoarthritis
Regardless of the location, people with spondylosis often have 1 or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Spinal pain that comes and goes
- Spinal stiffness first thing in the morning
- A crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone
- Spinal deformity
Symptoms of Cervical Spinal Arthritis
- Pain, tenderness, tingling, or numbness in your neck or shoulders
- Pain that radiates from your neck down into your shoulders, arms, and/or hands
- Limited range of motion in your neck
- Problems maintaining balance
- Difficulty swallowing
Symptoms of Thoracic Spinal Arthritis
- Pain localized in your thoracic spine
- Pain that spikes when you bend forward and/or backward your back
Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Arthritis
- Pain, weakness, or numbness in your low back, legs, and/or feet
- Limited range of motion in your low back
- Back pain that eases with rest or after exercising
- Severe leg pain
- Pain or tenderness in your hips, knees, or heels
- Difficulty bending and/or walking
- Loss of function
Are There Any Complications
Some people who have osteoarthritis in their neck might have problems swallowing or when they speak, but this is not very common. This can be caused by bony spurs affecting blood supply to the spinal cord.
If you have osteoarthritis of the spine, you may have other problems that may need treating. Let your doctor know urgently if you:
- have trouble going for a wee, or feel like you need a wee when you dont
- lose control of your bladder or bowel the organs that control wee and poo
- have feelings of numbness or tingling around your genitals or bottom
- lose power in your legs
- feel unwell like having a fever or sweating.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that happens when the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord, gets narrower. The most common symptoms are pain and weakness or numbness in the area linked to the affected part of the spine such as the legs, arms, neck, back or shoulders.
Spinal stenosis is often caused by osteoarthritis, as the bony spurs that form on the edge of the vertebrae can irritate the nerves in your spine. It can usually be treated with exercise, over-the-counter drugs and steroid injections.
Sometimes surgery will be needed to remove the spurs and make space in the vertebral column.
What Does It Mean If Lower Back Pain Is Shooting Into Legs
Lower back pain can radiate to other parts of the body: up or down from its place of origin. Sometimes lower back pain can be on one side of the back, which is also normal.
If the pain is shooting from the lower back into one or both legs, it could be sciatica , but its not always the case. There are many parts in the lower back that may cause the pain to radiate into the legs, such as facet joints, sacroiliac joints, muscles or inflammation of the bursa.
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Can Lumbar Arthritis Be Prevented
Your age, family history, and gender can all contribute to arthritis development. Although these factors are outside of your control, there are certain things that you can do to limit the pressure on your vertebrae. Reduced pressure may prevent flares of lumbar arthritis or other symptoms.
To reduce your risk of flare-ups:
Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can put unnecessary stress on your joints.
Opt for low-impact exercise. Stretching, yoga, and swimming can all relieve pressure on your back.
Move with care. When dealing with heavy objects, be sure to lift with your knees and not with your back.
Medication Options For Neck Arthritis
Analgesic and NSAID pain medication
Over-the-counter medications can be used to help address pain, inflammation, and swelling. NSAIDs like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Analgesics can help with mild to moderate pain. Your doctor can prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory if OTC medications dont provide relief.
Even though many commonly used NSAIDs are available over the counter, its important to talk to your doctor about side effects and drug interactions. NSAIDs can have significant side effects, including gastrointestinal complications, and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Disease-modifying arthritis medication
Neck pain due to inflammatory arthritis is typically treated with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug , such as methotrexate for RA. Other conventional DMARDs include leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine. Biologics are a newer type of DMARD that target specific immune system pathways. DMARDs help to reduce the immune system activity that is triggering inflammation and pain.
Steroid injections and nerve blocks
An epidural steroid injection is where doctors inject medicine directly into the epidural space of the spinal canal surrounding the nerve roots. The medicine is a combination of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic, which together reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
The anesthesia offers temporary pain relief and the corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the joint.
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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.
Why Is This Happening
The pain starts when your SI joint gets inflamed. There are several reasons it could happen. You could hurt it when you play sports or if you fall down. You might also get this problem from an activity that gives the area a regular pounding, like jogging.
Do you take uneven strides when you walk because one of your legs is longer than the other? That could be a cause of SI joint pain.
Sometimes you start hurting when the ligaments that hold your SI joint together are damaged, which may make the joint move abnormally.
Arthritis can lead to the problem. A type that affects your spine, called ankylosing spondylitis, can damage the SI joint. You’ll also hurt when the cartilage over the SI joint slowly wears away as you age.
SI joint pain may also start if you’re pregnant. Your body releases hormones that cause your joints to loosen up and move more, which leads to changes in the way the joints move.
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Other Conditions That Cause Back Pain In Older Adults
We often see a range of less serious but still painful spine conditions in seniors. Most patients with these conditions will not require surgery. Physical therapy, medication, injectable anesthetics, or a combination of treatments usually can control symptoms.
- Degenerative disc disease, which can cause whole spine pain, and lumbar arthritis, which usually causes low-back pain, commonly develop with age and are considered wear-and-tear conditions.
- Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of the joints that connect your spine and pelvis. This condition can cause pain in the low back, glutes, and upper legs.
- Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that causes patients spines to become inflexible, resulting in a continual hunched forward position and spine pain.
- We also check for adult degenerative scoliosis and kyphosis, spine-curving conditions that can result in back pain and weakness in the lower extremities.
How Is A Diagnosis Made
Facet pain can be similar to other spine conditions. An accurate diagnosis is important to determine whether the facet joint is the source of your pain. Evaluation includes a medical history and physical exam. The doctor will consider all the information provided, including any history of injury, location of your pain, and problems standing or sleeping.
You may be asked to stand or move in different positions and point to where you feel pain. The doctor may manipulate your joints or feel for tenderness over the spine.
Imaging studies, such as X-ray, CT, or MRI, may be ordered to help in the diagnosis and to check for other spine and hip related problems.
A diagnostic facet joint injection is often performed to confirm the cause of pain. The facet joint is injected with a local anesthetic and corticosteroid medication . The injection is given using X-ray fluoroscopy to ensure accurate needle placement in the facet joint. Your pain level is evaluated before and 20-30 minutes after injection, and monitored over the next week. Facet joint involvement is confirmed if your pain level decreases by more than 75%. If your pain level does not change after the injection, it is unlikely that the facet joint is the cause of your pain.
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What Is The Prognosis For People Who Have Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis symptoms may gradually worsen as you age. The condition is rarely disabling or life-threatening. Still, symptoms like joint pain may interfere with your ability to do the things you love. Early interventions can ease inflammation and pain. A combination of physical activity and medications can help.
Why & When Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Happen In The Low Back
Rheumatoid arthritis is just one of many types of arthritis affecting the joints of the body. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, however rheumatoid arthritis is quite common affecting one in every 100 people, with an estimated 400,000 people living with the condition in England and Wales alone. The condition affects three times more women than men and normally develops between the ages of 40 to 50, although it can affect people at any age.
RA has the ability to develop in any joint of the body but most commonly affects the feet, ankles, wrists and hands. Spine RA is slightly less common, as is RA affecting the hips, knees and elbows. One characteristic of RA is that it normally develops symmetrically affecting the same joint on both sides of the body.
There is a lot understood about how RA attacks the joint and manifests, however there is still no understanding of what triggers this autoimmune disease to develop in the first place. There have been relatable links to certain viruses, infections and hormones, and even genetically linked through familial history. Scientific research for these links has so far been inconclusive.
Patients with RA also tend to be more likely to develop other conditions such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendon ruptures, high blood pressure levels and inflammation of other parts of your body like the lungs, heart, eyes and even blood vessels.
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What Are The Symptoms
AS usually strikes a person between the teen years and the age of 40. The classic picture of AS is a man between the ages of 15 and 40 with intermittent, dull lower back pain, and stiffness slowly progressing over a period of months to years. Although AS was once considered to predominantly affect men, it is now known to affect women as well. There may also be differences in symptoms and outcomes in men and women with AS.1
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have ankylosing spondylitis, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Why did I get ankylosing spondylitis?
- What is the best treatment for ankylosing spondylitis?
- What are the treatment risks and side effects?
- What lifestyle changes should I make to manage the condition?
- Is my family at risk for developing ankylosing spondylitis? If so, should we get genetic tests?
- Am I at risk for other types of arthritis or back problems?
- What type of ongoing care do I need?
- Should I look out for signs of complications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that mostly affects the spine. Its a lifelong condition without a cure. However, exercise, medications and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms so you can enjoy a long, productive life. Its rare for someone with AS to become severely disabled. Talk to your healthcare provider about the steps you can take to stay active and manage symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/21/2020.
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Describing Painful Symptoms To Your Doctor
To determine whether your pain is due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or another type of arthritis, your doctor will ask you many questions about your pain, how it affects your life and body, when it occurs, and how bad it gets. Your doctor may ask you to rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10 .
Before you speak with your doctor, think about the words you want to use to describe your joint pain. Here are some terms that will help your doctor get the full picture. Choose the ones that best describe how your arthritis pain feels:
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What Does The Pain Feel Like
It could be a dull or sharp pain. It starts at your SI joint, but it can move to your buttocks, thighs, groin, or upper back.
Sometimes standing up triggers the pain, and a lot of times you feel it only on one side of your lower back. You may notice that it bothers you more in the morning and gets better during the day.
It’s more common than you might think. About 15%-30% of people who hurt like this have a problem with the SI joint.
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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 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.
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Take Notes About Pain Frequency Intensity And Triggers
Try keeping a diary of how you feel each day, rating your pain at different times and after different activities. Record what makes your pain feel better, and what makes it worse. Also share with your doctor what you can and cannot do because of your pain. For instance, make note of whether you can drive a car comfortably but have difficulty holding a fork. Your doctor will also want to know about any other symptoms you are experiencing, such as fever or a skin rash, which could point to another kind of arthritis.
The long-term impact to your health from arthritis varies widely from person to person and by the type and severity of arthritis. Still, a diagnosis and treatment is important for more than just your physical health its necessary for your emotional health, too. Anxiety and depression can occur with almost any chronic illness arthritis is no exception, Ruthberg says. So, if youre struggling with pain, see your doctor to figure out the source and the solution.
What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
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