Arthritis on the spine and back pain

ARTHRITIS ON THE SPINE AND BACK PAIN

Arthritis on the spine is the inflammation of the facet joints or sacroiliac joints between the spine and the pelvis. Sometimes, the inflammation may affect the sites where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones of the spine. Regardless of the exact location, arthritis in the back can be painful and often becomes chronic.

CAUSES OF SPINAL ARTHRITIS AND RISK FACTORS

The causes of arthritis in the back vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Besides normal wear and tear and autoimmune triggers, in many cases, the exact cause remains unknown. Some forms of spinal arthritis are hereditary. Risk factors of spinal arthritis include:

  • Age.
  • Excessive weight.
  • Presence of certain conditions such as diabetes, gout, psoriasis, tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome and Lyme disease.

SELF-HELP MEASURES TO REDUCE THE RISK OF DEVELOPING ARTHRITIS ON THE SPINE

Below are some of the self-help measures to reduce the risk of developing arthritis on the spine and improve function if you already have arthritis on the spine:

  • Keep your muscles strong and do exercises that increase muscle strength. This can help support the joints and reduce the pain of arthritis. 
  • Try to keep to a healthy weight.
  • Try to manage the pain. Distraction, meditation, reducing stress and trying to help your sleep can all help reduce pain.
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines are often prescribed to help with the pain and stiffness of arthritis.
  • Joint injections of a corticosteroid and local anaesthetic can sometimes help to relieve pain on the joints.
  • Physical therapies such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment can also help. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/arthritis/
back pain, Treatment not recommended for back pain

TREATMENT NOT RECOMMENDED FOR BACK PAIN

Several treatments have sometimes been used for non-specific back pain (back pain with no identified cause) but are not recommended because of a lack of evidence.

These include:

  • belts, corsets, foot orthotics and shoes with “rocker” soles
  • traction – the use of weights, ropes and pulleys to apply force to tissues around the spine
  • therapeutic ultrasound – where sound waves are directed at your back to accelerate healing and encourage tissue repair
  • percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) – where electrical pulses are passed along needles inserted near the nerves in the back
  • interferential therapy (IFT) – where a device is used to pass an electrical current through your back to try to accelerate healing https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/treatment/
Pinched nerve on your back

PINCHED NERVE ON YOUR BACK

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.

The pinched nerve on the back can be due to several problems. A herniated disk in your lower spine, for example, may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg. Other conditions that may cause the tissue to compress a nerve or nerves, including:

  • Stress from repetitive work
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Injury
  • Hobbies or sports activities

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Pinched nerve signs and symptoms include:

  • Sharp, aching or burning pain, which may radiate outward
  • Tingling, pins and needles sensations (paresthesia)
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area
  • Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve
  • Frequent feeling that a foot has “fallen asleep”

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR?

See your doctor if the signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve last for several days and don’t respond to self-care measures, such as rest and over-the-counter pain relievers.

back pain, Back pain from prolapsed disc

BACK PAIN FROM SLIPPED OR PROLAPSED DISC

One of the medical condition that can cause back pain is slipped or prolapsed disc (a disc of cartilage in the spine pressing on a nerve) – this can cause back pain and numbness, tingling and weakness in other parts of the body.

A slipped disc is when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in the spine pushes out. It’s painful if it presses on nerves. It usually gets better slowly with rest, gentle exercise and painkillers.

HOW TO EASE THE PAIN FROM SLIPPED DISC?

KEEP ACTIVE
If the pain is very bad, you may need to rest at first. But start gentle exercise as soon as you can – it will help you get better faster. The type of exercise is not important, just gradually increase your activity level.

TAKE PAINKILLERS
Take pain killers regularly (up to the recommended daily amount) rather than just when the pain is particularly bad. This will help you to keep moving.

WHEN TO SEE THE DOCTOR?

See your doctor when:

  • your painkillers are not helping
  • the pain is no better after a month
  • you have a very high temperature or you feel hot and shivery
  • you have unexplained weight loss
  • you have swelling in your back
  • the pain is worse at night
back pain, Kidney infection and back pain

BACK PAIN AND KIDNEY INFECTION

Kidney stone or kidney infection can cause back pain. A kidney infection is caused by bacteria entering the urethra and reproducing in the bladder, triggering an infection. The infection then spreads to the kidneys. There are several ways in which bacteria can achieve this:

  • Urinary catheter. Having a urinary catheter raises the risk of developing urinary tract infection. This includes kidney infection.
  • Kidney stones. People with kidney stones have a higher risk of developing a kidney infection. Kidney stones are the result of a buildup of dissolved minerals on the inner lining of the kidneys.
  • Enlarged prostate. Males with an enlarged prostate have a higher risk of developing kidney infections.
  • Weakened immune system. Some patients with weakened immune systems may have a bacterial or fungal infection on their skin, which eventually gets into the bloodstream and attacks the kidneys.

TREATMENT OF KIDNEY INFECTION

Kidney infection can either be treated at home or in a hospital; this will depend on several factors, including the severity of symptoms and an individual’s general state of health.

Treatment at home consists of taking prescribed oral antibiotics. The patient should start to feel better after a few days. The doctor may also prescribe an analgesic if there is any pain. Consuming plenty of fluids will help prevent fever and dehydration. Fluid intake recommendations may vary, depending on the type of infection.

If the individual is treated in hospital and suffers from dehydration, fluids may be administered with a drip. Most cases of hospitalisation do not last more than 3 to 7 days.

The following factors are more likely to lead to treatment being administered in the hospital for kidney infection:

  • serious difficulties urinating
  • sickle cell anaemia
  • diabetic
  • HIV
  • a history of kidney infection
  • a blockage in the kidneys
  • severe pain
  • severe vomiting
  • being aged 60 years or older
back pain, Return to work with back pain

GETTING BACK TO WORK WITH BACK PAIN

Getting back to work sooner rather than later will help most people with mild back pain. This will help your back pain itself, as staying active and keeping the back muscles moving will help you get better sooner. It will also make you feel better about yourself. Bed rest does more harm than good.

You don’t need to wait until your back problem has completely gone. In many cases, the longer you are off work the more likely you are to develop longer-term problems and the less likely you are to return to work.

Keep in contact with your employer and discuss what can be done to help you return to work. If your work involves heavy lifting or other physically demanding tasks, you may need to do lighter duties and fewer hours for a while. If your work involves seating a chair for a long period, it may help to seat on a pressure-relieving cushion like this cushion.

Non-slip memory foam seat cushion placed on the office chair.

The cushion is available on the following link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Products-Innova-Orthopedic-Cushion-Removable/dp/B07Q6RVPXB/ref=sr_1_20?dchild=1&keywords=coccyx+seat+cushion&qid=1609760020&sr=8-20

If you have an occupational health advisor through your job, they can help advise what work you are fit to do and arrange any simple adjustments to your work or workplace to help you to cope and stay at work.

Preventing shoulder blade pain

TIPS FOR PREVENTING SHOULDER BLADE PAIN

Treatment for your shoulder blade pain will depend on the cause and severity of your condition. Recovery time will vary from person to person. Below are tips to prevent shoulder blade pain:

  • Don’t lift heavy items. Heavy lifting can lead to injuries which could trigger pain between your shoulder blades. Avoid carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. If you do have to lift something be sure to bend your knees and try not to put too much pressure on your back.
  • Don’t sit for too long. Get up and stretch frequently when you are working at a computer or desk. This can help keep muscles loose. You can also try using a standing desk.
  • Adopt healthy habits. Be sure to eat whole foods, get seven enough sleep each night. A healthy lifestyle can help you feel more energetic and rested, which can help you manage pain.
Pain between shoulder blades

SHOULDER PAIN AND PAIN BETWEEN THE SHOULDER BLADES

Shoulder pain and pain between the shoulder blades is common. People with shoulder pain have dull, sore or shooting pain in the upper part of the back and between the shoulder blades.

At times shoulder blade isn’t anything to worry about. But in some cases, it can be a sign of a more serious condition.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE THE DOCTOR WHEN YOU HAVE SHOULDER PAIN AND PAIN BETWEEN THE SHOULDER BLADES?

You should see your doctor if the pain is severe and you have the following:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • excessive sweating
  • lightheadedness
  • coughing up blood
  • pain, swelling or redness in your legs
  • fever
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • loss of vision
  • sudden difficulty speaking
  • paralysis on one side of your body
  • loss of consciousness
back pain, Diagnosing back pain

DIAGNOSING BACK PAIN

After taking a detailed history your doctor will conduct a physical examination. During the physical examination, your doctor may test your:

  • ability to stand and walk
  • ability to detect sensations in your legs
  • spine’s range of motion
  • reflexes
  • leg strength

If a serious condition is suspected, your doctor might order other tests, including:

  • X-rays of the spine to show the alignment of your bones and check for breaks
  • blood and urine tests to check for underlying conditions
  • computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess your disks, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels
  • bone scan to look for abnormalities in the bone tissue
  • electromyography (EMG) to test nerve conduction
Pulled Muscles on Lower back

PULLED MUSCLE OR MUSCLE STRAIN ON LOWER BACK

Lower back depends on soft tissues to help hold the body upright and support the weight from the upper body. If put under too much stress, the soft tissue can become injured and painful. The injury of soft tissue on the lower back is sometimes called muscle strain or pulled muscle. Pulled back muscle or muscle strain may seem like a minor injury resulting in pain and muscle spasm but can be severe.

TYPES OF LOWER BACK STRAIN

There are two common types:

  • Muscle strain, this occurs when fibers in the muscle begin to tear from being overstretched or overused (commonly called a pulled muscle).
  • Lumbar sprain. A lumbar sprain occurs when ligaments are overstretched or torn. Ligaments are tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones together. 

A specific diagnosis of ligament sprain or muscle strain is usually not needed, as both have almost identical symptoms and receive the same treatment.

INITIAL TREATMENTS FOR LOW BACK MUSCLE STRAIN

  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Ice packs
  • Heat packs
  • Message therapy