The lumbar, or lower, region of the back is a common location to experience osteoarthritis. This is a disease that causes the cushioning tissues, or cartilage, on top of the bones to degenerate over time. It can cause pain and swelling in the affected areas. Osteoarthritis of the spine specifically affects the joints and discs in the lower back. Bones spurs can also develop as a result which put pressure on the nerves and cause intense pain or numbness.
Osteoarthritis generally occurs due to the natural aging process, but it can also happen as a result of an injury or a genetic disease.
Back pain is common in patients dealing with the effects of spinal osteoarthritis. It may be felt as stiffness, pain, or numbness that radiates through the lower extremities. Individuals living with chronic conditions also have an increased risk of developing depression or other mental health issues.
Men are more likely to experience the effects of this type of arthritis before the age of 45. Women, on the other hand, don’t typically begin to show signs of the disease until after that age. Obesity is another risk factor for spinal osteoarthritis. Activities that cause repetitive strain on the back also increase the risk for developing the condition.
Lifestyle changes to manage osteoarthritis
For most adults, the pain can be managed with lifestyle changes including:
- Healthy eating and weight management
- Exercises that include stretching and strengthening the muscles of the lower back
- Better posture when sitting
- Alternating between sitting and standing during the work day
Physical therapy and medications like NSAIDs and corticosteroids can help alleviate symptoms. Some patients also experience relief from applications of capsaicin.
The natural degeneration of the joints and tissues in the lower back is unstoppable, but that doesn’t mean that patients experiencing the painful symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis need to feel powerless. Talk to your pain specialist about potential lifestyle changes and treatments that can help.
Can this condition be causing pain in your lower back?