How to Prevent Spinal Arthritis

Woman experiencing back pain

Arthritis can affect your spine just like any other joint. But luckily spinal arthritis can be prevented if you follow some self-care tips.

You might be surprised to learn that arthritis can affect your spine just as it can other joints in the body. In fact, one study estimates roughly 80 percent of Americans experience at least one episode of lumbar (lower) spine osteoarthritis in their lifetime. 

Osteoarthritis is classified as a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage cushioning the joint bones thins over time. That leaves the bones rubbing against each other, causing extreme pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. While arthritis occurs most often in people at older ages, it can happen to anyone who has suffered a traumatic injury to the spinal column or other joint. Fortunately, you can keep your back strong if you know how to prevent spinal arthritis.

Remember: Your back is a joint

When you think of joints, you probably think about your knees, elbows, wrists, shoulders, and ankles. But your spine is a joint, too. It’s made up of facet joints wedged between your vertebrae.

The cartilage-laced facet joints give your spine its flexibility and ability to move. Yet those joints absorb a lot of stress whenever you walk, run, or lift heavy objects. So it’s no surprise that the facet joints can wear down after so much use. But you can avoid the pain of spinal arthritis with some self-care tips

Three ways to prevent spinal arthritis

Even at older ages, spinal arthritis isn’t inevitable. Make keeping your spine healthy and strong a priority with these three tips:

Stay active. When your back is aching and stiff the last thing you want to do is exercise. But you must! Exercising improves your muscle strength, flexibility, and overall range of motion. The best workouts for arthritis pain are low-impact aerobics, such as walking, swimming, and pedaling a stationary bike. Working out can also prevent further deterioration of the joint. Work with a trainer or physical therapist on the proper techniques so you don’t strain your back when you exercise. And remember: as with any exercise, if you feel intense pain, stop and rest immediately.

Manage blood sugar. According to the Arthritis Foundation, nearly half of adults with diabetes also suffer from arthritis. People with diabetes have a higher level of inflammation, too. Elevated blood sugar can make the cartilage in the joints brittle and more prone to degeneration. Therefore, people with diabetes must take their medications to control their blood sugar levels. But it’s a good idea to monitor your glucose even if you don’t have diabetes. Keep an eye on how much sugar you take in no matter your health levels. This will have positive impacts on your health far beyond preventing spinal arthritis!

Stay safe. Whether from an accident, sports injury, or simply from lifting a heavy object, an injury to your back can happen at any time, potentially leading to spinal arthritis. So stay safe and protect your joints. For example, make sure to use the proper technique when lifting to avoid excess strain on your spine. And if you suffer an injury to your back, seek treatment immediately from an orthopedist or physical therapist. Chances are it won’t go away on its own.

Live your best life with help from NYBJS!

Don’t let arthritis or an aching back keep you from living your best life. When back pain strikes, talk to a specialist at New York Bone & Joint right away. We treat all forms of joint disorders, including arthritis, with physical therapy and other conservative methods as well as surgery if needed. Contact us today for a consultation!

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