Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you get arthritis in your back?"
I'm 42 years old and have had mild back pain for years. Now I'm starting to get pain all the way up and down my spine, especially when I'm in bed at night. Could it be arthritis? Can you get arthritis in your back?
Osteoarthritis, or 'wear and tear' arthritis is very common in the weight bearing joints of the body, such as the hips, knees, and spine. More over, you are getting to be the age when some of these arthritis symptoms begin to emerge. Arthritis of the spine, in particular, can be characterized by aches and pains directly over the spine and stiffness, primarily after physical activity or a long day at work. If the arthritis symptoms are mild, there may not be a need to see your doctor. Often staying active with light physical exercise, stretching exercises, and over the counter anti inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen are all that is needed. However, if the pain is severe at times, or if you have any symptoms of nerve compression, such as numbness or pain that radiates into your arms or legs, or any weakness of the muscles of the arms or legs, then you should get in to see your primary care doctor to see if additional workup, such as radiological imaging of the spine, needs to be performed. Another common cause of back pain, other than arthritis, is paraspinal muscle stiffness which causes pain more on the sides of the spine than directly in the spine. This type of pain responds particularly well to back stretching exercises, and your doctor will be able to recommend specific exercises to you. Please discuss with your doctor soon.
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