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Can Arthritis Occur in Your Back?

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Can Arthritis Occur in Your Back?

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • Mar 30, 2021

Experts estimate that more than 50 million Americans have some form of arthritis. Even though spinal arthritis is not an official type of arthritis, many arthritis patients suffer from lumbar spine pain related to their disease. Physicians like spine surgeon Dr. Fischer in New York City view lumbar arthritis as a symptom of other types of arthritis. 

Causes
Lumbar arthritis pain is a symptom of other kinds of arthritis. The types of arthritis usually linked to back pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis – the most common cause of lumbar arthritis symptoms because the cartilage around your facet joints deteriorate over time with osteoarthritis, making your spinal bones grind together when you move. This causes inflammation and pain.
  • Psoriatic arthritis – a type of arthritis only affecting people diagnosed with psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that causes skin problems. Some patients have lower back pain with the condition, sometimes even having vertebrae fuse together to create stiffness and loss of mobility.
  • Reactive arthritis – arthritis that is caused by bacterial infections such as salmonella or chlamydia.
  • Enterophathic arthritis – arthritis that is linked to inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms
Lumbar arthritis causes discomfort in the lower 5 to 6 vertebrae of the spine. This may mean chronic pain or soreness, stiffness in the area upon waking up, decreased range of motion, burning sensation after exercise, muscle spasms, or popping sounds from the joints in that area.

Diagnosis
If you have lower back symptoms like stiffness, reduced range of motion, or joint creaking, schedule an appointment with an expert like Dr. Fischer for a physical exam and medical history. Your physician will check for swelling or inflammation in that area. If arthritis is suspected, X-rays will be recommended to identify issues with bone density, bone spurs, or cartilage deterioration. If arthritis is diagnosed, these images can also help Dr. Fischer track your progress and determine the best treatment plan. Your doctor will also order bloodwork to diagnose the specific type of arthritis that is present. You will likely be referred to see a doctor who specializes in joint pain called a rheumatologist.

Treatment
Your physician will work with you to develop a treatment plan most suited for your lumbar arthritis pain. This may include:

  • Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin
  • Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating a diet known to reduce inflammation in the body, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption
  • Physical therapy
  • Alternative treatments like chiropractic care, acupuncture, or therapeutic massage
  • Prescription medications such as muscles relaxants or corticosteroids
  • Surgery in severe cases

The goal of lumbar arthritis treatment is to allow you to manage pain throughout your life, since arthritis is considered a long-term condition. Your outlook will be tied to the type of arthritis you are diagnosed with and your symptoms. Dr. Fischer can work with your rheumatologist to help give you the best quality of life possible.  Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fischer.


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