4 Tips for Managing Low Back Arthritis

Have you been diagnosed with low back arthritis? Have you felt limited with your daily routine because of your low back pain? Are you avoiding activities you once did because of your low back pain? Then these next four tips may be helpful for you! These are four easy ways to help you manage your low back pain.

  1. Flexibility
  2. Do you have difficulty standing or walking for prolonged periods? Do you rely leaning on a grocery cart to get through the store? Then stretching may be your answer! The hips and low back are very closely related. Several muscles attach to both hips and low back. These muscles help you walk, stand erect, and participate in your daily routine. Tightness in your hips can increase stress to the low back. Stretching will increase your hip flexibility and decrease stress to your spine. Improved hip flexibility will allow you to tolerate standing and walking for longer periods of time without an onset of low back pain.

  3. Heat

    Do you feel stiff first thing in the morning? Those with arthritis should try a hot shower first thing in the morning to resolve stiffness. Moist heat or a hot pack applied to the low back could also be used to alleviate morning stiffness. Heat application increases blood flow and circulation, decreases pain, and improves mobility. Try this little tip to help improve your low back arthritis pain!

  4. Rest

    Don't be scared to rest!  Rest allows for your body to heal. Rest helps you to avoid overdoing it. Don't feel guilty about it! Resting has many advantages. Rest allows for the body to heal and rejuvenate to tolerate other activities planned for the day. Try to give your self an hour a day to sit and relax. Try reading, completing a puzzle, or talk on the phone with a friend or family member. Remember sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to low back arthritis, so finding a balance between rest and activity is key!

  5. Walking
    You might feel like your lower back arthritis makes it difficult to get active and exercise, but there are ways to manage. Take a daily walk around your neighborhood while practicing good posture. This is a great way to stay active by using low impact exercise, while improving other aspects of health Even walking uphill has shown benefits for people who experience low back pain. Walking up hill decreases the stress to the lumbar spine and increases your hip strength. By increasing hip strength, the low back does not have to overwork when maintaining an upright posture. Other activities for those with lower back pain may include gentle water aerobics and yoga.

Sciatica Pain

Many people who complain about lower back pain that travels down the legs suffer from a condition called sciatica pain. Sciatica pain can interfere with simple daily activities like walking, standing and sleeping. Therefore, a better understanding about the condition is needed.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition resulting in back pain due to irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body running from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet. Compression of the sciatic nerve can cause pain that radiates out from your lower back and travels down your leg to your calf. Sciatic pain can range from being mild to very painful.

What are the common symptoms of the condition?

Sciatica is different from general back pain. Sciatica pain hardly affects the entire back. It radiates from the lower back, down to the buttocks and into one or both of the legs, right down to the calf. Some patients even complain about shooting pain while sneezing, coughing or laughing, standing or sitting for a long period of time. Patients who have long period of numbness in their bottom, lower back and leg or those who experience loss of bladder or bowel control and often feel weakness in their leg and foot must visit a doctor immediately.

Who is most likely to suffer from this condition?

Sedentary lifestyle is one of the major reasons people suffer from sciatica pain. People who have to perform work involving frequent bending and twisting, lifting heavy weights are more likely to suffer from the condition. Being overweight is also a risk factor. It can put extra strain and pressure on your back, leading to sciatica.

What are the complications if the condition is left untreated?

Complications of sciatica could lead to partial immobility of the leg and partial or complete loss of feeling (sensation) in the effected leg. It could lead to severe functional disabilities like limitation in sitting, standing, walking and sleeping.

If a person is susceptible to suffer from the condition, what precautions should they take?

Although it is not always possible to prevent sciatica, there are several things you can do to prevent a slipped disc or other back injuries that could lead to sciatica. Here are some general precautions that you should take:

  • Maintain a better posture at work.
  • Avoid sustained periods of sitting.
  • Be careful while lifting anything.
  • Maintain correct posture while lifting.
  • Always stretch before and after exercise.
  • Exercise regularly to improve your strength and flexibility.

What Causes Back Pain?

The top 3 causes of Lower Back pain are:

  1. Arthritis, Stenosis, Disc Degeneration
  2. Herniated Disc
  3. SI joint and Pelvis

In this blog I will cover Arthritis, Stenosis, and Disc Degeneration.

What is it?

What is Arthritis? It literally means "joint inflammation".

What is stenosis? It is the narrowing of the canals or tunnels in the bones where the nerves travel.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)? This is when the space between the bones in the spine decreases.

Rarely will a person have DDD which does not cause stenosis and lead to arthritis. The 3 are closely linked and generally cause the same symptoms.

How It Works

In a healthy spine, there is plenty of space between the bones (also known as vertebrae). As you age, or have injuries, this space closes down. This is Degenerative Disc Disease.

As the space closes down, the hole narrows where the nerve branches off of the spinal cord. This is stenosis.

As the space decreases and the area becomes inflamed, arthritis forms in the joint.

Symptoms

First, realize that most people over the age of 50 have Degenerative Disc Disease, stenosis, or arthritis on an x-ray or MRI.

Second, people suffering from back pain caused by DDD, stenosis, or arthritis have difficulty standing or walking for long periods of time. They usually find relief sitting or bending forward. Often you will see them leaning on a shopping cart when walking through the grocery store.

If you have Arthritis, DDD, or Stenosis, will your condition get worse?

No, if you do something about it.

Yes, it will get worse if you do nothing.

There are successful treatments for arthritis, DDD, and stenosis. Most people can completely or greatly reduce the pain. Some proven treatments are spinal traction, hands on treatment, and specific exercises.

Top 7 tips on how to get a healthier, stronger, and more active lifestyle

  1. Drink More Water
    Drinking more water helps maintain the balance of body fluids necessary for digestion, circulation, kidney function, muscle function, and maintenance of body temperature.
  2. Snack more, Snack smarter
    Eating a healthy snack or two between meals can curb hunger. Eating smaller amounts throughout the day improves metabolism and controls blood sugar levels.
  3. Get 8 hours of sleep
    Sleep allows your brain to release hormones that decrease risk for health conditions, manages your hunger levels, maintains the immune system, and to helps to retain memory.
  4. Go for a 10 min walk after you eat
    Walking for 10 min after you eaps aide in digestion and regulate blood sugar levels.
  5. Take the stairs
    By opting out of the escalator or elevator you are increasing muscle activity, which in return will improve muscle strength and power. An increase in muscle activity means an increase in calories burn! In addition, taking the stairs is often a faster, more efficient way in getting to your destination.
  6. Limit social media to 30 min a day
    Mental health is just as important as physical health. Social media presents us with a distorted version of reality. By limiting social media, you allow your self to spend more quality time with friends and family.
  7. Do a good deed for someone else
    Doing a good deed and helping others can have an enormous impact on our self-esteem. It can decrease stress, promote mental health, and lead to happiness.

Six Easy Steps To Less Pain And More Energy

  1. Get enough sleep.
    • Set a specific bedtime and stick to it.
    • Make sure you have enough time for at least 7-9 hours.
    • Bedroom is made for sleeping only.  Reframe from watching TV or using your cell phone 30 minutes before going to bed.
  2. Eat the right foods.
    • Avoid the sugars, breads, and fried foods.  These foods can cause you to feel tired and increase inflammation.
    • Choose leafy greens and veggies, nuts, and fresh fruit. 
  3. Stay Hydrated.
    • If you become dehydrated you will feel tired, stiff, or even muscles will cramp.  These can increase your pain.
    • Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water.  Help your body feel refreshed, move better, and have less pain.
  4. Exercise Daily.
    • 30-60 minutes of exercise a day is all that it takes.  And it doesn’t all have to be done at one time.  Break it up into 15-minute intervals 2-4 times a day.
    • Pick the exercise that you like the best (Walking, Lifting weights, Stretching, Yoga, Pilates, or any other form of exercise).
  5. Set Goal.
    • Write down one activity you are having pain with a goal of being pain-free with that activity. 
    • Be Specific.
    • Look at it each day to make sure you are doing something every day to reach that goal.
  6. Handle the Problem.
    • Stop ignoring it, making excuses, or covering it up with medications.
    • Find the root of the problem.
    • Consult a movement specialist.

Tips for a Pain Free Life

  1. Don't stress the small stuff
    • "The problem with sweating the small stuff is that there is, and always will be, an endless supply of things to sweat over."
      - Richard Carlson, PH.D.
  2. Make time for yourself each and every day
    • "Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths."
      -Etty Hillesum
  3. If something is bothering you, don't ignore it – handle the issue
    • "If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse."
      -Unknown
  4. Exercise regularly
    • "Remember that any exercise is better than no exercise."
      -Unknown
  5. Buy a good pair of shoes
    • "Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life."
      -Unknown
  6. Get outside
    • "I'm going to stand outside, so if anyone asks for me, I'm outstanding."
      -Unknown
  7. Eat a well-balanced diet
    • "A healthy inside starts from the inside."
      -Robert Urich
    • "Eat less sugar, you're sweet enough already."
      -Unknown

Best Exercise for Herniated and Slipped Discs

Do You Have Back Pain or Sciatica When You Lift Something Heavy?

Or Bend Forward to Tie Your Shoe, Wash Dishes or Brush Your Teeth?

If you do, then you may have a herniated or slipped disc…

And here’e a simple, easy-to-do exercise that often gives herniated disc sufferers immediate relief.

I'm going to show you the #1 Best Exercise for Herniated and Slipped Discs.

But first…it’s important to know if you may have a herniated or slipped disc.

Most people we see with herniated discs fit the following:

  1. 35 years of age or younger
  2. Pain with bending forward and lifting
  3. Relief with standing or walking

For most people, the more the disc is herniated…the more pressure on the sciatic nerve…

And this can lead to pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg…sometimes down to the ankle and foot.

So, ideally you’ll only get relief with this exercise if the cause of your back pain and sciatica is a Herniated Disc.

Why Knowing the Cause of Your Back Pain or Sciatica is Important…

When you know the CAUSE of your back pain and sciatica, then it’s much easier to do the right treatment to get back to normal…and heal naturally.

Here, we specialize in helping people find out the exact CAUSE of their back pain and sciatica (this can be tricky…because some back pain and sciatica sufferers have more than 1 cause).

To schedule an appointment with one of our Back Pain and Sciatica Specialists and find out the exact cause of your back pain and sciatica, call us.

Hope this helps!

PS – We are giving away 11 Back Pain and Sciatica Screenings…to past clients, who have suffered with back pain or sciatica in the past 30 days…To schedule, give us a call.

PPS – Do you know someone you care about who is suffering with back pain and sciatica? If so, there are 2 ways you can help them. First, you can have them call us and schedule an appointment. OR if they’re not ready to schedule yet, have them call our office and request a copy of our Report: “The Top 10 Burning Questions for Sciatica”…and we’ll mail them the report, absolutely free. We’ll include a copy of this sheet, in addition to some other information that will help them out.

Top 3 Causes Of Back Pain and Sciatica

Finding the right cause for your back pain and sciatica allows you to find the right treatment, without relying on surgeries, medications, or injections.

Here we’ve put together a list of the 3 common causes of back pain and sciatica, how to tell if they apply to you, and what the root issues are.

Hopefully this guide is immensely helpful for you as you diagnose the cause of your back pain.

Cause #1: A Herniated Disc

Characterized by sharp pain in the lower back, directly above their tailbone. May also trail down into the buttocks or groin.

With a herniated disc, you will typically be able to take your finger and trace the very specific line of pain going down your leg.

Sciatica is a pain, numbness, and tingling in your legs, so when it is caused by a herniated disc, you will typically be able to trace the specific line of pain very easily.

From a technical perspective, this is caused by the back side of your vertebrae pinching the nerve that runs down the back of your leg.

This is normally seen in younger people, and can happen from a car crash or traumatic event, or from bending over repeatedly too frequently (for instance, if you were a drywaller).

Cause #2: Arthritis, Stenosis, and Degenerative Disc Disease

The reason that we discuss these 3 things at the same time is that they usually come from the same mechanism.

If you’re going to have more than 50 candles on your next birthday cake, have pain with standing or walking (which is relieved when you sit down), there is a 99% chance that you suffer from one or multiple of these.

It’s extremely common. So much so that 95% of people over the age of 50 show at least one of these 3 things on an X-Ray.

But just because it is common doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved.

What happens is, as you age, your discs between vertebrae will start to shrink (which is why most people get slightly shorter as they age). It’s very easy to tell someone that is suffering from these conditions, because they will be leaning forward on their shopping cart (in an attempt to increase the space in between vertebrae), or will commonly be heard saying that they need to sit down for a minute (because their pain goes away when sitting down).

Someone with Stenosis/DDD/Arthritis will feel a more general pain and tingling down the leg, will have the pain disappear when they sit down and will typically experience stiffness in the morning.

Cause #3: SI Joint and Pelvic Pain

This is actually the trickiest of all the causes, as this will often go undetected in MRIs, and is much harder to catch.

Think about a stack of blocks…

Well, what happens with a stack of blocks when the top block is out of alignment? Nothing really…

But when the BOTTOM block is out of line, the whole stack of blocks quickly falls over. This is what is happening here.

Many people get injections, surgeries and medication for the L4, L5 vertebrae, when the hidden cause is actually the SI Joint (which can be found inside the pelvic bone)

This problem is actually much more wide ranging. It can happen to a wide range of ages, but some key indicators are:

  • Frequent pain or discomfort with sitting or driving
  • Pain rolling over in bed
  • Pain getting in and out of a car
  • Extremely common in childbirth as well
  • Pain that is very broad, and hard to pin to any one area…With pain often wrapping around the outside of the leg

The difficulty with SI Joint issues is that it often is seen in addition to Stenosis/Arthritis/DDD, but what we’ve found is that many times, if you solve the SI Joint issue first then move into the others the problem can actually be solved.

So that should help you figure out exactly what is causing your back pain and sciatica.

If you need more information, or have questions on your personal situation and the back pain that you’re experiencing, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

If you think you have one of the above and need help immediately, just email me and we will put you through to a free screen with one of our back pain specialists… I’ll make sure they give you a definitive answer on what is going on, and let you know how you can get back to normal.