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Understanding Lumbar Arthritis

Lumbar arthritis is a chronic condition characterized by persistent pain in the lower back due to inflammation in the spinal joints. This condition can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, affecting daily activities and overall well-being. Our blog post will delve into the signs and symptoms of lumbar arthritis, explore potential causes, and provide preventative measures. This information aims to empower you with knowledge, promoting a proactive approach to managing this often debilitating condition.

Causes and Symptoms 

Lumbar arthritis primarily stems from the deterioration of the cartilage in the joint spaces of the lower back, often due to age-related changes or injury. It can also be caused by autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Lumbar arthritis can be a normal part of aging with many individuals not experiencing any symptoms. Individuals with symptoms often experience persistent low back pain that may worsen with certain movements and activities including sitting, prolonged standing, or walking longer distances. Stiffness is often reported with individuals displaying limited range of motion. Mobility deficits in surrounding joints, including the hips and thoracic spine, can create an environment where the individual is placing more stress on the lumbar spine which can potentially lead to the development of arthritis. If you are experiencing persistent lower back pain or stiffness, it is essential to seek medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Who is Most at Risk? 

Lumbar arthritis risk is highest among individuals aged 60 and above, as the wear and tear on the spinal joints naturally increases with age. Obesity also significantly raises the risk due to the extra strain placed on the lower back joints. Those with a family history of arthritis or autoimmune conditions are also at a higher risk. Other factors include a history of back or spine injury, physically demanding occupations, and sedentary lifestyles. Certain genetic markers have been linked to a higher risk of developing lumbar arthritis. Therefore, a combination of age, genetics, lifestyle, and overall health contributes to the risk level.

Recovery 

Recovery from lumbar arthritis involves managing symptoms and improving function through a multifaceted approach. Conservative treatments include physical therapy, pain-relief medications, and lifestyle modifications like weight management and regular exercise. Physical therapy looks to address deficits that are likely contributing to the individual’s symptoms and restore the individual’s ability to participate in daily activities. Over-the-counter medications, such as non-steriod anti-inflammatory aids, may be used to manage pain and inflammation. In cases where conservative treatments are insufficient, surgical interventions, such as spinal fusion, might be necessary. 

Preventative Measures 

Preventative measures for lumbar arthritis primarily revolve around maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining good mobility of surrounding joints, including the hips, thoracic spine, shoulders, and ankles, can reduce the overall stress in the lumbar spine. Individuals who work at a desk or travel longer distances for work should take frequent standing or walking breaks. Individuals who lift heavy objects should work on mechanics and address faults that may be placing increased stress on the lumbar spine. Healthy lifestyle habits, including regular exercise, good sleep habits, and a healthy diet, can improve overall health and well-being. 

Schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists today to become a stronger, healthier you!

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