Is My Back Pain Arthritis?

Close-up of a woman holding her lower back in pain

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lower back pain is common, affecting 80% of adults, according to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC).

“But why do I have back pain?” you may be asking. Unless caused by trauma such as accidents or a fall, lower back pain is caused by wear and tear. Degenerative joint disease (DJD) results from wear and tear of the joints.  The lower back is flexible and robust and comprises a stack of 5 vertebral bones with discs in between.

The cartilage between the joints acts as shock absorbers as the body moves, and when it breaks down, it causes inflammation and pain. This inflammation is called arthritis. The joints swell and stiffen, which advances with age, causing untold pain. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it’s common in the lower back.

When the spaces in your joints are narrowed, pressure is exerted on each vertebrae’s nerve roots, leading to an inflammation of the lower back. This is known as spinal stenosis and can cause severe and irreversible damage if left untreated.

The typical symptoms of arthritic back pain include:

  • Daily pain and stiffness worsen when waking up, particularly for the first 30 minutes, but gets better as the day progresses. This phenomenon is because your joints are not working at night, and muscles and joints tighten up, causing stiffness and pain. After the usual daily movements, the pain eases.
  • The pain feels worse when the weather changes, particularly in high humidity and winter. People are less active during the cold season, which becomes counterproductive since the joints need movement to reduce stiffness. The cold also increases the stiffness of the joints.
  • With DJD, sitting down feels more relieving than standing, and you experience general fatigue. This is due to the increased pressure on the soft tissues surrounding the spine, which causes tightening of the lower back muscles.
  • The pain doesn’t go away or get better with time. Mobility is reduced, and you can’t do simple chores like laundry and gardening after some time. This is because the disease has progressed over the months or years.
  • Walking for extended periods is painful and becomes a challenge due to the strain on the muscles in the lower back. The gait also changes with time.

A woman doing stretches on a yoga mat to relieve arthritic back pain

Luckily, there are methods of combating arthritis in the lower back. The options are as follows:

Routine Exercise

Exercise improves motion and lubrication of the joints, keeping them strong.  Moderate exercise keeps you flexible and stretches your body. Stretching eases the pain and improves mobility. Care should be taken in having the proper training to avoid worsening DJD.

Anti-inflammatory Diet and Supplementation Can

The relationship between osteoarthritis and diet is an important one. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of beneficial anti-inflammatory diets to choose from. Certain foods aid in soothing the pain by reducing the inflammation caused by the degenerative disc disease. These include fruits and leafy vegetables, lean protein, tomatoes, nuts like almonds, walnuts, etc. Foods that worsen DDD include red meat, alcohol, and processed foods. Anti-inflammatory supplements also help to reverse the pain.

We Can Help Relieve Back Pain From Arthritis

Back physical therapy will go a long way in ensuring that you manage arthritis. The secret is in finding a qualified one. A professional physical therapist will help you move safely without further injuries to your joints. Here at Cawley Physical Therapy, we offer personalized exercises that are suited for every need. Don’t wait; getting physical therapy is the key to managing your arthritic back pain.

To have a qualified physical therapist assess your condition, simply call 570-208-2787 or email Opened in 2003 and since expanding to five clinics throughout NEPA, Cawley Physical Therapy is a private practice capable of treating any orthopedic-related conditions from head to toe. They offer a feel-at-home feeling with laughter and fun while keeping serious business.