Arthritis is known to trigger various changes in the body including limited mobility and pain in the lower back. The normal wear and tear due to the aging process can instigate a degenerative process in the vertebrae that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis which is the most common type. Other diseases and injuries can contribute to this condition as well.
The lower back can also be affected by rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment option for arthritis that affects the spine is based on the type of arthritis and the severity of damage. It is vital to consult a doctor so that the lower back is properly diagnosed before starting any treatment. Remember that a wrong approach can cause more harm than good.
Regardless of the type of arthritis, it is important to establish a lifelong habit of using good body mechanics and posture in order to avoid straining the lower back. It is recommended to observe proper lifting techniques, avoid twisting movements, avoid prolonged periods of sitting, avoid over-reaching the arms and set up a proper work station.
Daily activities that are performed incorrectly will place excess pressure on the back and make the pain and stiffness worse. An occupational or physical therapist can guide the individual on ways while doing daily chores and hobbies without straining the lower back.
Hot and cold therapy
Always bear in mind that heat can be used to soothe sore back muscles as well as minimize the pain. You can apply dry or moist heat using a wrap or heating pad. The individual can also take a warm shower or bath to relax the tight muscles. As for cold therapy, it can be used in the form of wraps or simply using an ice pack to reduce the inflammation and numb the painful areas.
Just be careful when heat is used if a type of inflammatory arthritis is causing the symptoms since heat increases the blood flow and aggravate the swelling. Avoid using cold therapy for extended periods at a time since this can increase the stiffness. Application of either for about 15-20 minutes at a time is considered safe. In addition, cold or heat can be utilized throughout the day or at times when the symptoms flare-up.
Always bear in mind that the right intensity and type of exercise can also help reduce lower back arthritis. Exercise can strengthen and stretch the muscles that support the lower back, thus relieving pressure off the spine.
Exercise can also help cut down extra weight that might add strain on the lower back. Aerobic exercises such as biking, walking and swimming can keep the body in good shape. This must be combined with mild stretching for the back and hips with strengthening for the low back and abdominal muscles. The individual can work out at a pain-free level.
The lower back is the usual site for osteoarthritis and if the symptoms start to disrupt with daily life, medications are beneficial. This includes pain medications, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs and even steroid injections in some cases. Take note that each case is different and it might require some experimentation to find the right dosage and combination with the lowest occurrence of side effects.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can both progress to a point where damage to the spine can cause severe symptoms that disrupt with daily life. Once the pain is severe, weakness and numbness can cause difficulty walking as well as disrupted bowel or bladder function, surgery is the solution.
Surgery might involve the removal of the damaged areas of the spine, fusion of the vertebra together or reshaping the bones of the vertebra to relieve pressure off the neighboring nerves. The doctor can assess the history of symptoms and utilize X-rays and other imaging tests when surgery is considered.