Can arthritis of the spine cause back pain?

Does arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, cause low back pain? In this video Brighton chiropractor and back pain expert, Matthew Bennett, reveals the answer and explains what osteoarthritis of the spine actually looks like.

Matthew meets Minister at House of Commons

Matthew meets Minister Justin Tomlinson
Matthew meets Minister Justin Tomlinson

Sundial Principal, Matthew Bennett, recently attended a reception at the House of Commons and met a minister and several MPs as well as representatives from the MSK community. He was invited as President of the British Chiropractic Association to the launch of the new Arthritis Research UK report – Working with Arthritis. This report laid out the extent of conditions including back pain, osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and the impact this has on work.

Matthew met Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People who said “Supporting disabled people into work is a priority for this government which is why our Access to Work grants are available throughout people’s careers.

“I strongly encourage employers and employees to take up this support so that we can reduce the disability employment gap and make sure everyone benefits from being in work.”

The Minister went on to say that the government was providing a further 25,000 places this year in addition to the 37,000 places currently available on the Access to Work scheme. This scheme helps especially small and medium-sized businesses provide support and to make adjustments to the working environment to get disabled people back to work and to keep them in work.

At a national level, the need to address MSK conditions in a work context is clear. Only two thirds of working age people with a musculoskeletal condition are in work and these conditions are now leading the cause of sickness absence, resulting in a fifth of all absence-around 3.6 million working days lost each year. Back pain alone cost the economy an estimated £10 billion each year. The burden of MSK conditions is likely to worsen as the population ages and people are expected to lead longer working lives.

The report highlighted that people with MSK conditions often make adaptations so that they can keep working. Some choose to change the type of work they do, reduce their hours, or become self-employed changing duties, flexible arrangements which allow people to work in comfortable settings and pace activity, and the ability to take emergency leave can help people with arthritis to stay in work.

Matthew Bennett said “The reception was a wonderful opportunity to meet the Minister and MPs and hear their views on the importance of MSK conditions. It is clear that the government is taking this problem very seriously

“Chiropractors have a key role in treating not only spine related MSK conditions but also advising and supporting people with other inflammatory conditions and osteoporosis. The BCA is committed to working with all stakeholders in the MSK community. Indeed, our vision is to become the leader in spine care and to work collaboratively to achieve this.”

Arthritis research UK is the charity dedicated to stopping the impact that arthritis has on people’s lives. Their focus is on reducing the pain and keeping people active. Their remit covers all conditions which affect the joints bones and muscles including back pain osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. They fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis and they provide information on how to maintain healthy joints and bones and how to live well with arthritis. Along with BCA they are members of ARMA.

 

 

Arthritis Pain Compared to Other Joint Pain

Arthritis pain is sometimes confused with other sorts of joint pain. When a joint that is not arthritic is causing discomfort, often it is because the joint is too stiff or is moving too much. This is called mechanical joint pain. “Choosing what sort of pain you have is important so that you can get the right treatment as soon as possible” says Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett.

Mechanical Joint Pain

Mechanical joint problems are caused by the bangs and knocks of everyday life or by an accident leading to injury. If the injured joint is stiff and moving to little then it is called hypomobility. If the joint has become lax and is moving too much it is called hypermobility. In both of these cases the joint can become inflamed and painful. If this goes on long enough the nerve endings in and around the joint can become sensitised to pain leading to yet more agony. If this occurs in the spine it can cause Facet Joint Syndrome.

When the nerve endings get irritated in this way the body’s movement sensors send alter the messages to the brain. The technical name for this body awareness is proprioception.

Mechanical joint ache is often worse with certain positions like standing for long time but it tends to be eased with rest. Although you might be stiff initially after arrest generally mechanical joint problems are better with gentle activity.

Inflammatory Joint Pain

Inflammatory joint pain is due to one of the many sorts of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis. In this sort of inflammatory arthritis often the joint itself is attacked by the body’s autoimmune response. The joint cartilage is attacked and the joint becomes inflamed and painful. In this sort of arthritis the discomfort is often worse with activity and the more you do the worse it gets.

Diagnosing the difference between mechanical joint pain and inflammatory arthritis can often be quite tricky. Indeed, sometimes you can have both going on at the same time. Inflammatory arthritis often shows up on blood tests, whereas mechanical joint pain does not. X-rays and MRI imaging often don’t help much, especially in the early stages.

People with inflammatory arthritis tend to have other symptoms as well like general muscle aches and pains all over the body and the symptoms tend to affect both arms as well as legs symmetrically. Mechanical joint pain on the other hand, will often only affect one or two joints, often on one limb. You can of course have both types of joint problems.

Treatment of Inflammatory Versus Mechanical Joint Pain

Inflammatory joint problems tends to be treated with strong drugs like steroids or specific anti-arthritis drugs. Mechanical joint pain on the other hand, can be helped with a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as physical treatments like chiropractic, physiotherapy and exercises.

In mechanical joint pain, it is important to get prompt treatment. If the symptoms last longer than a couple of weeks. Most mechanical joint problems will get better within a week or two. So if it isn’t it may be starting to become chronic and long-lasting. Indeed 4/5 people who have an episode of back pain and don’t get proper treatment still have grumbling back ache a year later.

In both inflammatory and mechanical joint problems laser treatment can be helpful. It is painless and completely safe. In fact NICE, the clinical guidelines watchdog, have recommended it for osteoarthritis of, for example, the knee.

In back problems NICErecommend manipulation as done by chiropractors alongside conventional treatment. Similar guidelines exist the neck problems.

If you have a problem and would would like to know exactly what is causing it then call us for a free check with our physio’s or chiropractors. We’ll give you a brief examination and we should be able to tell you what you have and what you can do about it.

Does back pain increase as you get older?

Brighton chiropractor, back painBack pain is one of the areas that we think gets worse as we get older but is this true? We often think that as we get older we will get more aches and pains.  To find out researchers scoured all the research on the topic to see if a trend could be found. Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett, sums up the latest research.

It is reasonable to assume that back pain, or lumbago as it sometimes called, will worse as we get older because of the accumulation of wear and tear, arthritis and general use and abuse. As we get older we tend to exercise less, pick up more injuries in falls and generally recover more slowly from trauma, especially in the back. In spite of this the studies over the last 10 years don’t show an increase in back ache beyond the age of 60. In fact, in some studies, back pain actually seemed to be less frequent over the age of 60 compared to the years leading up to 60.

Why doesn’t back pain get worse as we get older?

There are several theories why back pain does not get worse as we get older. It could be that the people in the research just happened to be born at a time when they were very fit and robust naturally. Computer games, television and dishwashers were not around 60 years ago so people were growing up then were less sedentary. This may be the answer. Only a study that follows a large number of people for the whole of their lives would tell and this has not been done yet.

Another theory is that we get more tolerant to pain as we get older; our pain threshold goes up perhaps. The most likely explanation seems to be, however, that we do less physically demanding activities in old age so we don’t injure our backs so much. There are not many rugby players, mountain bike riders or kick boxers over the age of 60! Also we tend to stop work around this time. So if work posture or activity, or even work stress is the factor that brings the back ache on then stopping work might help prevent future occurrences.

Here at Sundial the average age of our patients is 38. Central Brighton has a younger demographic than other parts of the country where the average age of patients with back pain is around 45. That is not to say we don’t get people in their 60’s and 70’s coming in – we do, but the peak age to get back pain is in the younger, early middle aged groups. We also treat a few teenages with back pain which brings the average down.

If you are getting back pain and want to see if chiropractic or physio treatment can help you then pop in for a free check. We can also advise on a few simple exercises that you can do at home to keep your back healthy and pain free.

Reference

Does back and neck pain become more common as you get older? A systematic literature review. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2012, 20:24

Update:

Further research on the prevalence of bone and joint problems in older people show all sorts of aches and pains do continue into old age. Women tend to get more pain than men.

What is the prevalence of musculoskeletal problems in the elderly population in developed countries?A systematic critical literature review Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2012, 20:31

Choosing the right Brighton Chiropractor and Physiotherapist Clinic

Our professional approach, gentle treatment and the great care we take of our clients have helped us become a centre for excellence – and the Brighton back pain clinic that people most prefer.

Many people believe they will have to put up with back pain when in fact, prompt treatment can cure back pain for good. Call us today for a free check to see how our back pain treatment works and if we can help you. We can also help with leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain and headaches too. Even arthritis pain can improve with the right treatment.

At Sundial Clinics we work hard to find out what is wrong. That’s why we have physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and Pilates trainers to help you.

Most of our clients come from Brighton, Hove and Kemp Town but many come from around Sussex as we are close to Brighton railway station. We are so confident that we can help you find the pain relief and better health you want, that we offer all our clients a money back guarantee.

Here is a check list to choosing the best chiropractors in Brighton

Four Secrets to Relieve Arthritis – Without the Use of Drugs

Arthritis Care PackageArthritis is a joint disorder. The joints are inflamed which can cause significant pain and can interfere with an individual’s regular daily routine. A lot of people suffering from arthritis depend on medications to relieve the pain but depending on drugs is not a very healthy option. So we’ll be sharing four simple secrets to relieve pain caused by arthritis without the use of drugs.

Secret 1: Hypnotherapy. Controlling your mind about how you perceive the pain definitely eases the pain or even stops your brain from recognising that you are in pain. Hypnotherapy doesn’t let you lose control over your mind, it’s the complete opposite. You are gaining control over your own mind to stop the brain from perceiving the pain you feel.

Secret 2: Exercise. Just because you have arthritis doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. There are exercises that can help you if you have arthritis such as:

  • Walking. Walking maintains joint flexibility and builds the strength of joints which is good for arthritis because it is mainly caused by an inflammation of the joints.
  • Tai Chi. A martial art exercise that originated from China that includes flowing fluid like circular movement of the arms and legs that allows you to relax and improves your range of motion.
  • Yoga. This relaxing activity provides relief to stiff muscles and relieves sore joints through the use of deep breathing techniques, controlled movements, stretches and pressures.
  • Exercise in warm water. This eases stiff joints and eases muscles that are sore. Water allows the body to move in full motion without any pressure or difficulty.
  • Our physiotherapist can advise on specific exercises and put a tailored programme together. Click here for more information.

Secret 3: Lose the extra weight. Keeping your weight within normal ranges greatly lessens the pressure on your load bearing joints. If you know your weight has gone a bit overboard then now would be a good time to go on a healthy diet.

Secret 4: Watch what you eat. Some foods will affect the level of pain you feel and the level of inflammation in your joints. Eat a diet that consists of raw nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits. Follow this regimen for 30 days and observe if the pain is caused by something you eat or is greatly lessened because of your present diet. Another healthy option is to snack on raw nuts and fruit smoothies. Foods that can cause inflammation of the joints are caffeine, sugar, salt, fast food, and processed food which you should avoid.

Now that you have the secrets to relieve pain caused by arthritis, you are on the way to easy and healthy recovery without the use of medications. To sum up the secrets, simply change your diet, lose the extra weight, exercise and control your own mind. This takes dedication but is worth it if you really want to get rid of the arthritis pain that has been bugging you.