Osteoarthritis of The Back

December 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Osteo-Arthritis Articles

Jude Cresswell asked:

Back pain is a very common condition. 4 out of 5 people experience back pain at some stage of their lives. Arthritis of the spine is one of the causes of back pain. It is important to know the symptoms of back arthritis because the earlier it is diagnosed, the better it can be treated to prevent disability in future.

The signs & symptoms of spinal arthritis include:
Back pain that comes and goes
Morning stiffness of the spine that decreases with activity
Pain or stiffness in the neck
Weakness or numbness of limbs
Difficulty in walking or bending

The arthritis affecting the spine is usually of the degenerative type known as osteoarthritis. In this type of arthritis the cartilage covering the joints wears away until the joint surfaces are exposed, leaving them susceptible to erosion if untreated. Pain occurs due to friction produced when the exposed joint surfaces rub together on movement.

If you have activity related back pain relieved by rest it is likely that you have arthritis. More concerning symptoms are those of night pain, numbness or burning pain.

The tests done to diagnose and assess severity are:
CAT scan
Bone scan

If you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the back there are a number of treatment options both with and without involving medication.

NSAIDs like ibuprofen can be taken for temporarily pain relief. Aspirin and acetaminophen can also give relief from pain. As these medications provide only temporary relief from pain and are not without side effects they should only be used when the pain becomes severe and impairs your mobility. Always consult your doctor before starting any medication.

The following life style modifications can help people with back arthritis tremendously:

General exercises and stretches to help increase the flexibility and stability of your back.

Wearing proper shoes to minimize strain on the back. High heeled shoes should be avoided. Shoes that provide proper arch support are recommended for people with spinal osteoarthritis.

If you are over weight you are putting additional stress on the spine and back.
Find a good mattress for yourself that will support the muscles and joints of your back while you rest and sleep.

When in a sitting position whether in a car or at your desk choose a seat that will provide proper lumbar pressure to your back. You can achieve this my either changing your seat or inserting a lumbar cushion.

Ice & hot packs can be used to reduced pain and numbness associated with degenerative arthritis and are contraindicated in inflammatory arthritis.

Electric stimulation devices, either professional or for home use relieve pain by the passage of microcurrents through the muscles.

Mechanical massage devices or manual massage disperses lactic acid, increases circulation, can be very effective for ‘knotted up’ muscles.

Vitamin, mineral & diet supplementation with Vitamin D, vitamin C, ascorbic acid, glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin sulphate may help reduce pain.

People with arthritis continue to live active and productive lives. Educating yourself about your condition and managing your symptoms are the keys to not letting arthritis slow you down.

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