In my last blog post, I wrote about one of the most common causes of back pain and sciatica, that being a HERNIATED DISC. Now I’m going to move on to a second most common cause:
2) ARTHRITIS, DISC DEGENERATION, AND STENOSIS
Arthritis means “joint inflammation.” The 2 most common types of arthritis that we see in the clinic are 1) Rheumatoid Arthritis, which usually attacks multiple joints and is the less common of the two, and 2) Osteoarthritis, which usually attacks 1 joint at a time.
WHO DOES THIS AFFECT?
If you’re over the age of 50, if you have pain with standing and walking, and you have relief when you sit down–if you answered “yes” to all 3 of these, there is a 99% chance that you have arthritis, disc degeneration, or stenosis. We also know that if you live in the US and you’re over the age of 50, there’s a 95% chance that you have arthritis, disc degeneration, or stenosis on an X-ray (translation–it is extremely common). Does this mean we have to accept old age? Absolutely not! There’s a lot of help for people with arthritis, disc degeneration, and stenosis that does NOT involve medications, injections, or surgery. The most common level of occurrence is L4 and L5.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH AGE?
If you are over the age of 50, chances are that you’re probably shorter now than when you were 18 years old. One of the main reasons why that happens, in addition to a breakdown in posture, is the space between the bones in your back (vertebrae) shrinks down and gets closer together. On X-ray it is commonly referred to as “Degenerative Disc Disease” because the disc height is decreasing. If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store and see someone leaning forward on their cart, that is almost certainly a classic sign of arthritis, disc degeneration, and stenosis (pain with standing and walking, relief with bending forward), or they may say “I just need to sit down for a minute.” This is also the person, in addition to having trouble with standing and walking, will frequently have trouble with stiffness in the morning because, throughout the day, gravity will shrink the spaces between the bones in the back. At night when they lie down and there’s no gravity, those spaces will almost overfill, which will cause a lot of muscle tightness and ligament tightness, which usually causes the individual to say “I have to get up and move around for about 15 minutes–I’m really stiff when I get out of bed in the morning,” or they’ll say “as soon as I get a hot shower then my back feels normal again.” This person will also experience a broad, general feeling down into the leg of pain, numbness, tingling, and frequently weakness. So this can present in many different ways, but the main things you want to look at are pain with standing and walking, relief with sitting, and stiffness in the morning.
HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP WITH RELIEVING LOW BACK PAIN FROM ARTHRITIS, DISC DEGENERATION, OR STENOSIS?
The overall successful treatment is designed to help you to continue to participate in your everyday daily activities. Treatment is based upon both the outcome of findings from your thorough Physical Therapy evaluation coupled with your personal goals. Your program will most likely include:
- Manual Therapy to help improve mobility of tight muscles and stiff joints
- Postural Awareness and movement education to provide tips on improving how you sit, stand, bend, and lift, as well as sleeping positions
- Flexibility and stretching exercises to improve mobility in the muscles and joints of your spine and extremities.
- Strengthening exercises to improve core strength for increasing support of your spinal joints, as well as strengthening the extremities (arms and legs) to help take some of the workload off of your spinal joints.
- Aerobic exercise, which helps to relieve pain by promoting healthy body weight and improving overall strength and mobility.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms commonly associated with Arthritis, Disc Degeneration, or Stenosis, don’t wait to take action. Call my office at once at (302)691-9055, or visit my website at www.wildermanpt.com to schedule your FREE, 30-minute consultation to see how Physical Therapy can help you. Don’t delay–if you need some more help with back pain please call my clinic at (302)691-9055, or request my free information report which shows the 14 ways to ease back pain by clicking on the report.