What is arthritis back pain?

Arthritis back pain is a debilitating reality for many patients. Here are some questions that patients could have:

  • Is arthritis causing your back pain?
  • Will the pain get worse?
  • How can you arrest the pain?
  • What are the possible medications or cure?

The lower back: your precious resource

The lower back or the ‘lumbosacral’ area holds most of the body’s weight. This area is worked when a person bends, turns, moves, stands or sits.

Even the smallest problem with the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints or bones in the area can cause severe back pain. So, is this back pain connected to arthritis?

Arthritis back pain

Arthritis in the spine or spinal arthritis is a degenerative condition that is quite often seen in the aging population. This kind of arthritis can lead to severe back pain. In some cases, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis also cause arthritis back pain.

What happens in spinal arthritis?

The protective cartilage that lies between the vertebrae begins to wear out. Theoretically, this might sound like a horrible condition. However, it happens to many people and is rarely the primary cause of back pain.

That said, wear and tear can cause discomfort and this can lead to the loss of lubrication. As the bones begin to grind against each other, the joints begin to feel rough. Bone spurs may develop, leading to further discomfort. This is when back pain becomes severe.

Symptoms of arthritis back pain:

Look out for these symptoms to find out if your arthritis and back pain are related:

  • Intermittent pain, redness, heat or tenderness in the back
  • A stiff spine when you get up from bed in the morning. The stiffness eases as the day progresses.
  • The pain runs into the thighs and pelvic area
  • Pain could spread into the shoulders, knees or heels
  • A crunching or grinding sound in the back
  • Numbness
  • Problems with movement
  • Deformity of the spine


What will the doctor do?

To ensure that you are suffering from arthritis back pain, and not from any other back related problems, the doctor will examine for symptoms of arthritis.

They may conduct blood tests, X-rays and MRI/ CAT scans to see into the spinal canal, nerve tissue and bone structures. A bone scan or a Myelogram also help doctors rule out other possible causes like bone tumors or herniated discs.

They may check for limited range of movement too. Once these possibilities are ruled out, the doctor makes the final diagnosis.

Cure for back pain in arthritis:

The first step is to gain a thorough understanding of your condition. Next, you need to consider treatment options. In the beginning stages, proper diet and care will help you arrest the rapid progression of the disease.

Exercises also help. A study conducted by The George Institute for International Health found that Tai Chi can improve pain and disability. Yoga is known to be effective too.

However, chronic back pain may require surgical intervention. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases conducted a 5-year study associated with back pain and learnt that chronic back pain patients were more open to surgical treatments.

Arthritis back pain can be severe and chronic. Proper pain management can help patients gain the upper hand over arthritis.

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