Arthritis and Back Pain

| May 16, 2013
Arthritis and Back Pain

When arthritis is affecting someone’s lower back, then it is called lumbar arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of such arthritis of the back.

There are five sections of our spine

  • cervical
  • thoracic
  • sacrum
  • lumbar
  • coccyx

Out of all these sections, arthritis affects the lower back section or lumbar part of the back. It is located just above the pelvis. The pain mostly occurs in the lower back region of the back. Lumbar arthritis is a common kind of arthritis, and it affects 30% of males and 28% of females in the age group of 55 to 64 years in the US.

Back pain may also be a result of Rheumatoid Arthritis. This pain occurs mostly in the cervical region of the spine. However, Rheumatoid Arthritis also affects the lumbar portion.

Various types of arthritis may affect the lower back region, including Spondyloarthritis and OA.

Here, we will be discussing all the major factors related to arthritis and back pain, including its symptoms, causes and treatments.

What are the signs of arthritis in your back?

Some common symptoms associated with arthritis back pain are:

Arthritis and Back Pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Headache
  • Pain at the skull base
  • Loss of proper joint movement and function
  • Stiffness caused in the back
  • Feeling warmth around your affected joints

Treatments for Arthritis Back Pain

You can use the following methods to get temporary or persistent relief from back pain. These treatments may include the following:

#1. Hot and Cold Compress for Pain Relief
  • Though hot or cold compress cannot help treat the underlying cause of back pain, it may give you temporary relief from stiffness or pain.
  • To reduce muscle spasms and improve blood flow, you can use a heat pack.
  • It will help in managing the pain you are having.
  • You can also use a cold compress to reduce Rheumatoid arthritis inflammation. If you have acute back pain, you should surely be using this.
  • You may find cold packs slightly uncomfortable to use, but they significantly relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Use them just for 20 minutes and not more than that. However, you can repeat using it 3 to 4 times a day.
#2. Medications

It is also a good way to get relief from back pain. But which medicine you should take will completely depend on the severity and frequency of your back pain. Many medications are available which may alleviate the pain and also slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Painkillers: Managing the pain becomes very important when it starts coming in between your daily activities. Taking pain killers, over the counter drugs, or analgesics are the easiest way to get rid of mild back pain. While if you have severe pain, then you may also need stronger medicines prescribed by your doctor.
  • Anti-inflammatory,non-steroidal drugs: NSAIDs can help in both soothing as well as reducing inflammation. These work better way because they aid in decreasing swelling. Reduced swelling will make your back movement easier and will ease the pressure. Based on the medical history, you should always ask your doctor about what NSAIDs will suit you.
  • Disease-modifying, anti-rheumatic drugs: These drugs (DMARDs) mainly help slow down the development of rheumatic arthritis and soothe your pain. These may also prevent future pains. DMARDs show their effect by blocking chemicals that get released at the time when antibodies attack joint tissue. This way, it also helps in preventing further damage to the cartilage or bones.
  • Spinal injections: This is considered a quick and easy way to get rid of chronic pain. In this, doctors inject anesthetic or corticosteroid into the spinal nerve region where the pain occurs. Its effect persists for a few weeks or even months. A side effect of these spinal injections filled with corticosteroids is osteoporosis and weight gain. So, you should ask your doctor for the next injection. Also, do not use these spinal injections very frequently.
#3. Back Surgery for Chronic Pain
  • It is always considered the last option to treat arthritis back pain.
  • However, it is an effective method of easing chronic back pain.
  • Your doctor will tell you which type of surgery you will need as per your condition and pain.
#4. Back Pain Support Therapy
  • Many therapies may help in supporting your back.
  • Physiotherapy aids in enhancing the muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Occupational therapy is also useful for chronic back pain.
  • With this therapy, you will learn strategies for joint protection. For instance, you will learn how to carry an object or pick anything for not to cause back pain.
#5. Gentle Exercising
  • Exercising properly can help you ease the pressure from your back and keep your joints supple.
  • With exercising, you don’t only target the back, but the whole body will be benefitted.
  • And this is indeed an advantage. Consult your doctor and ask what exercises will benefit you and your back.

What does arthritis back pain feel like?

Arthritis back pain may feel like some tenderness in the affected vertebrae. You may feel a grind when you move your spine. If arthritis has affected your spine’s nerves, you may experience numbness, tingling, sharp pain or weakness in the legs or arms.

Can the arthritis of the back be cured?

However, there is still no cure available for back pain and arthritis. But still, you can make it manageable and improve by treatments. These treatments will help improve joint function and decrease inflammation and pain to a great extent.

What is the best pain relief for arthritis in the back?

You can take NSAIDs for getting temporary relief from back pain due to arthritis. You can buy them over the counter or by prescription also. In general, Naproxen or Ibuprofen works well for reducing pain. NSAIDs reduce the inflammations and pain; thus, give relief to the suffering patient.


If you are experiencing severe back pain due to arthritis, then you should see your doctor. We have discussed some effective treatments, but only the doctor can tell you which one will be good for you.