Many forms of arthritis and related conditions that affect the joints, muscles, and/or bones can cause problems like pain, stiffness, and swelling in the back. While any part of the back can be affected, the lower back is the most common site of arthritis back pain, most likely because it bears more of the body’s weight. The hips, knees, and fingers are usually the first place for arthritis to occur. However it can also affect your spine. The vertebral facet joints in the lower back are commonly affected by osteoarthritis. The facet joints are the joints in your spine that make your back flexible and enable you to bend and twist. Nerves exit your spinal cord through these joints on their way to other parts of your body.
What is Osteoarthritis and How Does It Cause Pain?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis of the back, osteoarthritis is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. In the spine, this breakdown occurs in the cartilage of the facet joints, where the vertebrae join. As a result, movement of the bones can cause…
- Further damage
- Formation of bony outgrowths called spurs
- These spurs can press on nerves, causing pain
- New bone formation can also lead to narrowing of the spinal canal causing spinal stenosis.
Spinal osteoarthritis begins with facet cartilage degeneration. The cartilage degeneration doesn’t cause back pain, but it leads to joint changes that cause pain. Most cases of spinal osteoarthritis develop gradually. Pain can range from dull to severe and is often accompanied by stiffness. The following are reasons for pain…
- The cartilage on one side of the facet joint gets damaged. Every time the spine moves the injured cartilage rubs against its neighbor, causing friction and further injury to both sides.
- The joint damage and friction leads to inflammation.
- The swollen facet joints transmit this pain signal through a single nerve that travels through the facet joint.
- This signal then causes the back muscles to go into spasm.
- The combination of the muscle spasm and inflammation of the joints causes low back pain.
Lower Back Pain
You will probably notice pain first as a achy low back pain after exercising or doing physical work. The pain is usually in the back or even in the surrounding areas such as your groin, buttocks or back of your thighs.
You will probably notice pain and stiffness in the neck if you have osteoarthritis in your neck. Pain may also be felt in the shoulders and upper and middle back. Headaches are also frequent.
The Goal of Treatment in Osteoarthritis Is To Reduce Joint Pain And Inflammation
There are plenty of treatments for spinal arthritis…
- Back-strengthening exercises
- Warming pad or ice pack
- Topical pain reliever
- Losing excess weight
- Refrain from activities that aggravate pain
For persistent pain that is interfering with your daily activities, see a rheumatologist to make the correct diagnosis and begin the proper treatment.
Contact Us (859-331-3100) For More Information to Request an Appointment
Tristate Arthritis and Rheumatology is first and largest Rheumatology practice in the Northern Kentucky area. Founded by Dr. Arthur Kunath in 1986, our rheumatology practice now consists of six doctors who are board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and a Physician Assistant. Patients see one doctor (except in emergencies), thereby assuring continuity of care and an individualized doctor-patient atmosphere giving the physician the ability to establish personalized and detailed relationships. Our doctors have received numerous awards, including being listed as “Top Doctors” in Cincinnati Magazine, receiving the Patient’s Choice Award, the Most Compassionate Doctor Award, and the American College of Rheumatology’s “My Doc Rocks” award.
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