Oh, My Aching Back!

Have you ever done something strenuous and “thrown out” your back?  I always thought that this was something that only happened to older people until one particular occasion when I was moving apartments.

One moment I was packing and lifting boxes and the next I was on the ground in sheer agony.

Lucky for me this was a one-time occurrence.  It took a few days for the back pain to subside, just long enough to have a few of my friends finish all the heavy lifting! 🙂

You may think like I did, that severe back pain only occurred in older adults.  But for millions of Americans, they are unfortunate enough to know that it’s not just back pain but the onset of spinal arthritis.

Ryan Church, a nurse practitioner from St. Mark’s Comprehensive Spine Center, sat down with me to discuss what spinal arthritis is, the symptoms and possible treatment options.

The most common type of spinal arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease; in layman’s terms, it the result of wear-and-tear on the joint, resulting in the loss of cartilage and sometimes loss of space for nerve tissue.

Although arthritis of the spine is most common in an older generation (women over the age of 45), about half a million children are affected by it.  Younger people that experience spinal arthritis typically will get it as a result from an injury or trauma to the back, a loss of cartilage due to a genetic defect or conditions that make the joint lose its proper formation.

Symptoms of spinal arthritis include:

  • Stiffness and/or pain in the neck or spine
  • Weakness in the legs or arms
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the neck or arms

If any of the above symptoms strike a cord with you may want to visit Ryan at St. Mark’s Comprehensive Spine Center to explore the source of your back or neck pain.

Although there is no single test that confirms that you may have spinal arthritis your physician can administer a physical exam to find the source of the pain.  You doctor may send you for an x-ray so they can look for bone damage, loss of cartilage or damage to any spinal discs (the cousins between the bones of the spine.)

Unfortunately there are no permanent treatment options to cure spinal osteoarthritis but there are several options that can serve as pain management.

Like with so many other diseases, daily exercise is important.  Choose something that is low impact and low intensity, swimming, cycling, pilates and/or yoga are great options.  These exercises will help you maintain a healthy weight, increase your flexibility and improve your blood flow.

And if you’ve visited the doctor and you’re still feeling that neck pain, leave the kids at home and take a long drive.  I know for me that all too often the pain in my neck has my kid’s names written all over it!


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2 Responses to “Oh, My Aching Back!”

  1. Edith Trimmer
    April 3, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    I recently traveled overseas and while there developed a serious cold. That was a nuisance but I also had significant pain in my lower back, just above my buttocks, enough so that it made walking or standing painful. It was more severe on the right side than the left. I treated it with Ibuprofen which really helped. I still have twinges, especially on getting out of bed in the morning and still have a residual cold. Does back or joint pain sometimes accompany colds, especially in areas where there are already some low level aches and pains?
    do I need to see a doctor about this?


    • jade
      April 4, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      Thanks for your question! I ran this by Ryan Church and this was his response: “Colds and back pain often do occur at the same time but not for reasons that you may think. With coughing/ sniffling and the like you are rapidly changing the pressure in the lower back that can increase pain. You really don’t need to see a health care provider unless you have severe pain, long lasting pain, numbness in the back or legs, tingling, leg symptoms, or weakness. If you have some concerns I would love to evaluate you more closely to make sure you are ok. Thanks for your question! I wish you well.”