Lumbar osteoarthritis

Lumbar osteoarthritis

Lumbar osteoarthritis is also called low back arthritis or lumbar spondylosis. Lumbar osteoarthritis really just describes the wear and tear in your low back as we age. We all get this to some degree but some a little more than others. It involves your bones, disc, joints and nerves in the low back. The driving force behind this wear and tear are injuries to the low back intervertebral discs. Some of these injuries we will feel, however most we will not. Continued forces through the low back disc can result in the development of little tears (microtrauma – may or may not feel) within the discs and this causes the disc to break down and lose the fluid from its centre (nucleus pulposus). As we loose this central fluid and the ‘sponginess’ of the disc reduces it looses its ability to absorb and transmit forces and this leads to osteoarthritis.

Generally speaking lumbar osteoarthritis is most common in people over 50 years of age. However age is not the only risk factor, previous injury and occupations that are very labor intensive and specific sports activities such as gymnastic tend to increase the risk also. This is simply because you use your low back more during these activities.

Symptoms of lumbar osteoarthritis

The most common symptom of lumbar osteoarthritis is low back pain and stiffness. Lack of mobility in the low back, especially in rotation and extension is common. Many patients may describe a grinding clunking noise when they rotate or movement their low back from side to side.

Treatment of lumbar osteoarthritis

Treatment of lumbar osteoarthritis can be done conservatively and is in most cases very successful. Chiropractic and physiotherapy are the most logical first treatment options. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) Balmain and Dee Why treatments are aimed at reducing any pain and improving function. Our physiotherapists and chiropractors incorporate a multimodal approach in the treatment of low back osteoarthritis and this involves joint therapy just a mobilisation, manipulation and mechanical strategies to improve motion (McKenzie Method). Muscle therapies and low back strengthening exercises. Sometimes someone may be sent for an injection however this is rare. Even more rare is the need for surgery and this is only considered if is compromise to the spinal cord or nerves.

Causes of low back pain

The following conditions are common causes of low back pain.