Lumbar spine arthritis

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Lumbar spine arthritis is a symptom of several forms of arthritis that affect the spine.  The pain results from movement and inactivity. Lumbar arthritis causes you to feel chronic pain or lingering soreness in the bones of the lower spine. It may also cause muscle spasms, joint creaking, stiffness, and a decreased range of motion in the low back.

Neck pain and lower back pain is very common and is a result of many things quite often associated with getting older. The bones that make up the spine like the rest of the body slowly degenerate as we age and this frequently leads to arthritis. Cervical spondylosis is the degeneration of the joints in the neck and becomes ever more common as people age and it affects more than 85% of people over age 60. The most common cause of lumbar arthritis is osteoarthritis.

Causes of arthritis

Arthritis in the spine can develop as the disc degenerates and loses water content. In children and young adults, discs have high water content. So as we get older, our discs start to dehydrate and weaken. This condition causes settling, or collapse, of the disc spaces, and decrease of the disc space height.  Therefore as the facet joints (smaller joints at the back of the spine), experience increased pressure they start to degenerate. As result arthritis develops, the cartilage that covers and protects the joints wears away. So, when the cartilage wears away completely, it results in bone rubbing on bone. To make up for this, your body may respond by forming new bone in your facet joints to help support the vertebrae. Eventually, this bone overgrowth – called spurs – may narrow the canal for the nerves to exit the spine (stenosis).

Risk factors for arthritis

The following have all been linked to higher risks of neck pain and spondylosis:

  • Genetics – family history of neck pain
  • Occupation – jobs that involve lots of neck motion and overhead work
  • Smoking – linked to increased neck pain
  • Mental health issues – depression/anxiety
  • Injuries/trauma – a car accident or on-the-job injury


Symptoms of arthritis

  • Neck and lower back pain and stiffness worse with activity
  • Numbness and weakness in arms, hands, and fingers or legs.
  • Trouble walking, loss of balance, or weakness in hands or legs
  • Muscle spasms in neck and shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Grinding sound/feeling in the neck with movement

Treatment for arthritis

The first treatment advised is to stretch and strengthen weakened or strained muscles. Your chiropractor may also use gentle neck traction techniques and joint mobilisations to help restore normal joint mechanics and improve posture. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also be helpful in addressing both pain and swelling. Depending on the specific problem, it may be prescribed for a number of weeks. With careful use of heat, muscle cross-friction and other local therapies can help relieve symptoms. It is uncommon for those who have only cervical spondylosis and neck pain to have surgery. Surgery is only advised for patients who suffer severe pain and have had other treatments that have not worked.

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