Spinal arthritis causes stiffness and pain in the low back. The stiffness is most severe first thing in the morning, then decreases with activity, and finally increases again toward the end of the day. This is likely due to fluid accumulating in the joint as a result of being inactive overnight, causing greater inflammation.
The typical pattern of low back discomfort caused by facet joint arthritis is as follows:
The discomfort is mostly felt in the lower back, runs down into the buttocks, and often feels like it's in the hip.
People frequently report a burning sensation on the outer side of the thigh, and occasionally down the leg, as it continues to worsen.
Because the pain extends down the leg, many physicians and even individuals mistakenly believe it to be nerve root pain, rather than arthritis.
Symptoms of Back & Spine Arthritis
The following are some of the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis:
The stiffness and discomfort in the back and/or neck tend to be worst in the morning (particularly for about 30 minutes after waking up), often known as "first movement pain."
By evening, most people feel a lot better and will have forgotten about their condition. As the individual continues to carry out his or her normal routines throughout the day, the pain generally subsides to a more manageable level.
At night, pain and stiffness usually worsen.
Sleep-related pain is often an indication of osteoarthritis.
Swelling and warmth in one or more joints, particularly during weather changes (which may be linked to barometric pressure shifts and air cooling).
When the joint or afflicted area of the spine is pressed, localized tenderness may be felt.
Aching type of pain in a joint that is constant or intermittent. The discomfort may be worsened by movement.
A person may be suffering from joint stiffness that makes it difficult to bend and pick something off the ground.
When the joint is moved, there is a crunching or scraping sound of bone against bone (called crepitus), especially in the neck.
Diagnosing Arthritis in the Back & Spine
Your doctor may employ one or more of the following diagnostic techniques to verify spinal arthritis:
Physical exam and medical history
Blood tests for genetic factors and/or RA antibodies
X-ray of the spine is used to detect and locate the painful joint.
X-rays, computed tomography (CT), myelography, bone scan, and/or ultrasound are used to pinpoint the damage, detect nerve and spinal cord involvement, or rule out other causes.
Synovial fluid aspiration is a test carried out to examine the synovial fluid inside a joint.
Your doctor may numb the painful joint with an injection and check to see if the pain goes away.
Inflammatory arthritis versus osteoarthritis
There are two basic categories for arthritis of the back and spine:
Inflammatory arthritis is seen in chronic autoimmune disorders such as ankylosing spondylitis. These conditions often begin at a young age and tend to be characterized by symptoms like low back and/or neck pain, stiffness that is worse in the morning, as well as limited motion in the back. These symptoms tend to be improved by exercise and unrelieved by periods of rest.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs as a person ages. Osteoarthritis of the spine causes joints along the spine to deteriorate, leading to bone spurs, cysts, and a disc restriction.Osteoarthritis of the back or neck is far more prevalent than inflammatory arthritis.
Treatment for Back & Spine Arthritis
The treatment for spinal arthritis is dependent on a variety of circumstances. They might include your age, level of discomfort, kind and intensity of arthritis, as well as your own health objectives. Because the illness-induced harm to the joint is irreversible, the goal of most therapy is to minimize pain and prevent new injury.
Nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis include the following:
Corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are used to alleviate pain and inflammation.
Other medicines that treat specific symptoms or triggers of arthritic inflammation are available.
Back muscle strength and range of motion in the spine will be improved with physical therapy.
Lifestyle modifications to reduce spine inflammation or stress, including weight loss, smoking cessation, physical inactivity, etc.
Surgery for Back & Spine Arthritis
Spinal arthritis may require surgery if other treatments fail to address the problem. The following are some examples of spinal arthroscopic procedures:
Decompressing the spinal cord and releasing nerve roots from bone spurs and other tissues that are pressing on them
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that fuses multiple segments of the spine together to stabilize the spine.
The goal of these operations is to improve the appearance, function, and/or health of the face. They may be done as open procedures or using a minimally invasive technique. Each has advantages and drawbacks. Before the operation, the surgeon will evaluate and discuss all possibilities with you.
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