Living with back arthritis is a daily challenge, and obtaining successful treatment for back arthritis can be life-changing. If you are suffering from arthritis that affects your back, an experienced spinal surgeon can help you choose a treatment plan so that arthritis symptoms will not control your life.
What is Back Arthritis
There are two main types of arthritis that cause back pain – osteoarthritis, where joint cartilage breaks down slowly overtime due to aging and wear-and-tear, and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that impacts a patient’s joints and can progress rapidly. Osteoarthritis is much more common back pain culprit than rheumatoid arthritis, but both can occur.
Anyone can be afflicted with arthritis of the back, though adults over age 50 are most at risk. Those who have previously suffered a spinal injury or were born with a spinal defect are also more likely to develop back arthritis, as are overweight people.
Conditions Resulting from Back Arthritis
Back arthritis can lead to other conditions, which in turn can themselves cause increased back pain. One such condition is ankylosing spondylitis, which is a type of inflammation that causes bone fusion of the joints in the back, resulting from fibrous ligaments transforming into bones that then grow together.
Another example of an arthritic back condition is spinal stenosis, which occurs when the spinal cord is narrowed due to bony vertebrae overgrowth and ligament thickening.
Signs and symptoms of back arthritis can differ from person to person and with the specific type of arthritis from which a patient suffers, but typically include:
- Pain with joint movement
- Swollen or warm joints
- Limited range of motion
- Joint tenderness, especially when touched
- Joint stiffness after inactivity or rest
- Occasional fever
- Crunching, cracking, or sounds of bone-on-bone
Most back pain associated with arthritis occurs in the lower back, since this portion bears the most weight. This type of arthritic back pain can also radiate to the neck, hip and pelvic joints.
Spinal surgeons can use X-rays, MRIs, and a patient’s medical history and physical examination to diagnose arthritis in the back, which is visible on radiologic images.
A back doctor in Tampa has many treatment options available for patients suffering from back arthritis. While arthritis is considered a chronic condition that is not necessarily curable, the right treatment can be effective at allowing patients to return to their normal activities.
Some of the most common treatments for back arthritis include but are not limited to:
- Hormone and steroid treatments
- Anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics
- Immune system boosters
- Hyaluronic acid injections for joint lubrication
- Physical therapy
- Exercise therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Weight management
If these therapeutic treatments do not work, a person can always resort to surgical methods to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord and related nerves.
Consulting a Back Surgeon
Whatever the cause of a patient’s back arthritis, it is important they consult an experienced spinal surgeon as soon as possible to develop a treatment plan and pursue a life free of back pain.