With bad postures and the long hours of sitting that characterize today’s work life, frequent back pain may not be an abnormal experience for many, but what if despite all your efforts at trying out new exercises, posture correction techniques, or home remedies, the lower back pain refuses to completely leave? Over time it may worsen. Is such lower back pain just due to lifestyle issues? Or is there a deeper cause to it, something like spinal arthritis?
What Is Spinal Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease where the cartilage between the bones wears out. As a result, there is the very little cushion between the bones. They will start grinding against each other and cause more wear and tear.
The joint will then swell up resulting in more discomfort. Sometimes it also results in the formation of bone outgrowths called spurs. Though it is mostly hereditary in older people, osteoarthritis can also be triggered in younger people due to poor joint development, joint injuries, or excess stress on the joints. Being overweight adds to the risks.
Spinal arthritis is the sub-category of osteoarthritis where the degeneration is in the cartilage between the discs of the spine. The worst affected is the lower back, as the discs there are relatively smaller.
The inflammation in facet joints caused by discs rubbing against each other triggers a pain response. The lower back muscles tighten which further worsens the ache. If there are spurs pressing against the spinal nerves, then they too add to the pain.
Symptoms of Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis generally manifests as lower back pain. Timely detection is required to stall the progress of this degenerative disease. For this, we must know when persistent back pain is to be taken seriously and investigated. Some important symptoms are:
- The neck and back stiffness is at its worst in the first half an hour after waking up.
- The pain eases subsequently over the course of the day and gets worse again as night approaches.
- There is a consistent ache in the lower back which developed gradually.
- Bending or stretching is difficult and joints are not as flexible as they used to be.
- There is a tingling feeling in the limbs, numbness or a pinch felt in the lower back.
- What starts as neck pain radiates towards the head and shoulders.
- It hurts whenever pressure is applied to the aching portion of the neck or spine.
- Joints get swollen and warm whenever there is a change in weather.
When in doubt, it is always best to consult an experienced doctor.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A physician will first ask you to present your medical history and ask you about your lifestyle patterns to gain a better understanding of your needs. Next is the physical examination where your doctor will check all of the affected body parts and make you do simple exercises to study the extent of the problem. After this, a scan or an X-ray might be required to evaluate the degree of joint damage.
Unfortunately, there is not yet a permanent cure for osteoarthritis. However, the good news is that through proper lifestyle changes, exercise, physical therapies, and pain medications, it is possible to manage the pain and delay the progress of this disease.
Contact Our Office
If you’re interested in learning more about treating pain in your spine, contact our office to schedule a consultation with a board-certified spine surgeon, Dr. Kevin James today!