Is Your Back Pain Due to Osteoarthritis?

Is Your Back Pain Due to Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a widespread problem, affecting more than 32 million Americans. What sets this prevalent form of disease apart from other types of arthritis is the progressive degeneration it causes in cartilage surrounding your joints. This is also what causes osteoarthritis symptoms to worsen with time.

When most people talk about osteoarthritis, they often complain about achy knees, hips, or hands. However, this painful condition can also cause significant pain in the spine. In fact, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis seen in this part of the body.

Dr. Arien Smith at Brain and Spine Institute of New York and New Jersey has advanced training in diagnosing and treating spinal conditions, including osteoarthritis. If you have back pain, here are a few signs that it could be due to osteoarthritis.

Joint pain and the spine

When people think of joints, many often look to obvious areas like fingers, elbows, shoulders, knees, and hips. However, the spine also contains two important types of joints: facet joints and sacroiliac joints. 

Facet joints 

These small joints connect each vertebra, giving your spine the ability to twist and bend while also keeping it from moving too much.

Sacroiliac joints

These joints connect your lower spine on each side of your pelvis. They sit in the bony structure above your tailbone, known as the sacrum.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage coating a joint starts wearing away. When this occurs, the bones start rubbing together, leading to pain and stiffness. This also can trigger some telltale signs when osteoarthritis affects your spinal joints.

Signs of osteoarthritis in the spine

For most people, osteoarthritis in the spine starts with pain, especially in the neck or lower spine. 

In the early stages, you may notice discomfort upon waking or after long periods of inactivity. However, this progressive condition also worsens with time, leading to additional symptoms such as:

It’s common for osteoarthritis symptoms to improve when you lie down and worsen when sitting up or standing. You also can have this form of arthritis in your spine without any symptoms at all.

Diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis in the spine

Dr. Smith diagnoses osteoarthritis by performing a comprehensive evaluation that often involves imaging such as MRIs or X-rays to look for joint damage. 

During your appointment, Dr. Smith discusses your symptoms, reviews your medical history, and assesses your risks of the condition, such as:

In some cases, Dr. Smith also recommends additional testing to rule out other diseases that can cause back pain.

If Dr. Smith diagnoses osteoarthritis in your spine, he can outline a personalized treatment strategy to relieve your discomfort, improve mobility, and slow the progression of degeneration. These could involve a combination of medications, physical therapy, or lifestyle changes to ease pressure on your spine.

Do you think your back pain is due to osteoarthritis? You don’t have to live in pain. Contact Brain and Spine Institute of New York and New Jersey to schedule a consultation with Dr. Smith by calling or booking online today.

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