When people over 50 years come to the pain clinic where I work and complain about back pain we instinctively know that in 95% of cases it will be diagnosed as arthritis. The degenerative change in the spine commonly called as “wear and tear” is the main cause of this chronic arthritis back pain. This arthritis is classified as ‘osteoarthritis’. This degenerative change of bones can happen to any joint of the body, the back being no exception.
According to doctors arthritis can attack any part of the back but the lower back is mostly affected. The protective cartilage that acts as the cushion on the top of the bones gradually ‘wear out’ resulting in swelling and pain. This swelling narrows the spinal canal and the bones put pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots that emerge from the spinal cord. This is called ‘spinal stenosis’. The pain from the back extends to the legs giving a feeling of numbness to the legs.
Causes of osteoarthritis
The 26 bones that you have in your back allow you to stand and walk and they also protect the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. As people age, the band of tissues supporting the spine thicken, the joints and the bones change their shape by swelling. They put pressure on other structures, resulting in acute pain.
Although arthritis is mainly associated with aging people, it can also affect younger people.
Younger people may suffer from arthritis due to 4 factors.
- Due to some genetic defect, the symptoms of arthritis may occur to people in their 30’s.
- Having a history of trauma or back injury including spinal surgery increases the risk of arthritis in the back.
- Being overweight can be a major cause of arthritis.
- Repetitive stress on certain joints can cause arthritis.
Men are more prone to arthritis than women when they are below 45, but after 45 the ratio of women suffering from osteoarthritis is more than men.
Besides the degenerative type of arthritis, inflammation of bones can also cause arthritis known as rheumatoid arthritis. It mainly occurs among young people and it is not regarded as a common cause of arthritis.
- Stiffness in the joints.
- Acute pain.
- Pain, weakness and feeling of numbness in legs and arms.
- Losing bowel or bladder control.
The people suffering from arthritis, tend to lean forward while walking or standing as it gives a little comfort to their pain. The symptoms get worse if they have to stand for a long time. The only way to get a little relief from the pain and discomfort of the back is by lying down, though that is also very temporary. The attack of arthritis can be so severe on some people that they become partially or totally disabled, hindering their normal activities.
The doctor takes a personal and medical history of the patient. Then he performs certain physical examinations to locate if the patient has pain, inflammation, tenderness, signs of injury around the tissues or is suffering from hindrance of mobility. He may also order some diagnostic tests including:
- X-ray to locate bone damage, wounded disc or loss of cartilage.
- Blood tests to rule out the possibilities of other diseases.
- MRI to specify the areas of damage.
The first treatment of osteoarthritis is long periods of rest. But during bed rest, traction for long periods or splints is no more recommended. Then it may require medication, physical therapy and the last option might be surgery.
The common procedures of treatment may be:
- Weight loss where necessary and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Regular exercises which include
1. Strengthening exercises to make the muscles supporting the joints, stronger.
2. Aerobics to strengthen heart and circulatory system.
3. Range-of-motion exercises to increase flexibility.
4. Yoga to improve attitude and mood.
- Physical therapy to strengthen the back-supportive muscles.
- Medicines to reduce swelling and remove pain like acetaminophen and Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Surgery is sometimes performed when all other ways of curing arthritis fail. When bladder and bowel functions gets impaired, nervous system gets damaged and the patient becomes partially or totally disabled due to arthritis then the doctors are likely to recommend surgery.
My years of experience in the pain clinic has taught me that some alternative, non-drug treatments work effectively to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis. I am mentioning 7 of them that the patients reported to have worked on them.
- Massage with topical pain-relieving arthritic products.
- Heat or cold compresses.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)–electrical pulses are applied to the affected joints through a small device.
- Giving nutritional supplements.
- Using Dorn Spinal Therapy.
- Coccyx cushion takes away the pressure from the lower spine, sacroiliac joints and tailbone and distributes the weight away from the painful area. There are various designs of Coccyx cushions that can be used on any chair while sitting including the wheel chair, office chair and also on car seat.
The Memory Foam Coccyx Cushion can provide you a comfortable support when you are sitting in your office, watching a movie or driving a car. Your lower back pain can also result from pregnancy, an injury or from degenerative change of bones. This cushion can aid you to reduce your pain to a great extent.
- The back of the cushion is cutout in U-shape. This reduces the discomfort around your tailbone.
- The pillow has a smooth slope to maintain the correct posture while sitting.
- The shape of the cushion restores the natural lumbar curve by tilting the pelvis forward.
- Sculpted design for more comfort at thighs and bottom.
- This comfortable cushion has a perfectly personal fit which reacts to the body temperature, molds itself according to the body shape and returns to the original shape after standing up.
The customers who used this cushion for their arthritis or after their surgery praised its excellent quality. It made their pain a lot more bearable and brought back comfort to their lives. The Memory Foam Coccyx Cushion has achieved a high rank of 4 stars at Amazon.com. To avail this cushion at a discounted price visit the site of Amazon.com. Find Out More >>>
If you’re over 50 arthritis may be a common problem. You can control arthritis and relieve the pain by lifestyle changes. Exercises like swimming, walking and aerobics can help you to maintain a healthy weight and at the same time keep arthritis pain in control. Don’t let arthritis bog you down. Learn to ‘fight’ it out!