13:56 PM

Arthritis in Your Back: Early Signs of Back Arthritis, and What to Do About It

CreakyJoints reports on back arthritis, the causes of back pain and what can be done about it according to experts including HSS physiatrist Jonathan S. Kirschner, MD, RMSK.

“Osteoarthritis (OA) often affects the lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine) and develops through wear and tear, though it has a strong genetic component, too,” said Dr. Kirschner. “OA pain is typically more noticeable when you bend backward or twist your back or when you’re standing for a while.”

Dr. Kirschner explained other possible causes for back pain such as scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, and lumbar spinal stenosis. “The physical changes of scoliosis often start in childhood or adolescence, but the condition might not start causing back pain until middle or older age. Scoliosis usually causes back pain from muscle imbalance or because it leads to other conditions (like spine arthritis or disc disease), but it in and of itself doesn’t cause pain." Degenerative disc disease is a condition where pain is caused from an unhealthy disc. Normally, discs don’t have much feeling, however after a disc injury, new nerves grow into the area that can transmit pain signals, he noted. Lumbar spinal stenosis compresses the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord, causing symptoms such as tingling, numbness, or weakness. You may have sharp shooting pains that radiate down the leg. Or, pain can be dull, burning, tearing or feel like a muscle pull, said Dr. Kirschner.

Radiofrequency ablation is another option for treating OA in the back aside from medication. “The treatment can provide longer-term pain relief for some patients; pain can be eased for one to two years,” said Dr. Kirschner. “However, it may not work in all patients and recent osteoarthritis treatment guidelines say there is only limited evidence for its effectiveness. It has limited effectiveness in knee OA, but guidelines don’t comment on spine OA,” he added. Surgery such as a spinal fusion, which fuses two or more vertebrae together in your spine permanently, are typically done for severe spinal arthritis causing deformity or for scoliosis, cited Dr. Kirschner.

Read the full article at Creakyjoints.org.