Lumbar arthritis is typically caused by the gradual age changes of the cartilage in the joints and discs of the lower back, a process known as osteoarthritis. It is often associated with aging, but several other factors can also contribute. Sitting for an extended period of time can place increased stress on the lumbar spine; especially when sitting with poor posture. Limitations in mobility in surrounding joints may also lead to an excessive force being placed on the lumbar spine during movements and activities. A history of a previous injury in the lumbar spine may increase the likelihood of developing arthritis. Obesity is another factor that can place additional strain on the joints and hastens cartilage wear. Genetic factors can play a substantial role as well, with individuals having a family history of arthritis being at higher risk.
how physical therapy can help:
Physical therapy plays a vital role in managing lumbar arthritis. Physical therapy provides treatment that not only addresses current symptoms, but also works on addressing likely causes to the onset of arthritis. This includes treatments to improve mobility, strengthen surrounding musculature, and address mechanical faults that may be placing increased stress on the lumbar spine. Manual therapy techniques, such as soft tissue massage and joint mobilizations, may be used to alleviate pain and stiffness. Additionally, physical therapists educate patients on ergonomic principles and posture correction to prevent further degeneration. By promoting active involvement, physical therapy empowers patients to manage their symptoms and maintain mobility.
exercises that may help:
- Child’s Pose, or Balasana, is a calming yoga posture. From your hands and knees, sit back towards your heels, spread your knees, extend your arms, and rest your forehead on the mat. Practice 1-2 minutes, 1-3 times a day, for back, hip, and ankle stretch.
Hip Flexor Stretch Kneeling
- Start in a kneeling position with one foot out in front of you. While maintaining an upright posture, move your hips forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of the kneeling thigh. Hold this for 2 minutes and repeat on the other side. Repeat this 2-3 times a day.
Seated Lat Stretch
- Start by sitting with feet flat on the ground and elbows on a table. While keeping a neutral spine position, sink your chest towards the ground until you feel a gentle stretch. You may have to scoot towards the edge of the chair to maintain a neutral spine position. Hold this stretch for 1-2 minutes and repeat 2-3 times a day.
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