Arthritis of the lumbar spine (lower back) is a degenerative condition that can be extremely painful and debilitating. It is most commonly seen in men and women over the age of 50, but can also develop much earlier in individuals who have higher risk factors for developing the condition, such as those who sit for long periods of time or perform heavy labor.
Lumbar arthritis develops in the joints that connect the vertebrae of the lower spine to each other, and to the spine itself. The most common form of the condition is called osteoarthritis, and is caused by wear and tear on the joints as they continually move and rub against each other. When this wear occurs in the lower spine, it is called spondylosis, and may be accompanied by possibly related conditions such as disc degeneration (in which the spinal discs themselves become worn and compressed) and spinal stenosis (in which the discs begin to exert pressure on the spinal nerves, causing leg pain, numbness and difficulty in walking).
Common symptoms of lumbar arthritis include pain and stiffness in the lower back, which is often most severe in the mornings. It may be accompanied by muscle weakness and instability, which can cause a greater susceptibility to injury or strain. Left untreated, lumbar arthritis can become more severe, and lead to disability.
As with many degenerative diseases, there is no absolute cure for osteoarthritis; the damage caused over time by aging cannot be reversed. However, if you have been diagnosed as suffering from lumbar arthritis, there are alternatives to the prescription painkillers, muscle relaxants, and in extreme cases surgeries commonly used to treat the condition. Chiropractic is a medical system that focuses on the structure of the body to provide a holistic approach to treating disorders and enabling the body to help heal itself, thus re-establishing one’s sense of health and well-being.
Many chiropractic patients have reported that the pain associated with osteoarthritis can be effectively alleviated, and that the stiffness and associated muscle weakness can be treated and eliminated by drug-free, non-invasive methods. A chiropractor, after a thorough examination to determine the exact cause of your condition, can often prescribe a series of chiropractic adjustments to correct imbalances in the spine and joints that may have caused the wear and tear in the first place, and which may be perpetuating it. These adjustments are gentle and painless, and are performed by the chiropractor using their hands to push or pull the muscles and joints of the spine to realign them into a more normal position. Some chiropractors may recommend flexation and distraction techniques, which are performed on a special table that allows the body to move and twist in ways that relieve pressure and tension, and restore freedom of motion to the affected joints.
Chiropractors may also recommend associated therapies, such as massage, acupressure, electrical stimulation (which alternately stimulates and relaxes muscles to help them loosen up), and lifestyle changes (such as gentle exercise, losing weight and correcting bad posture habits). While chiropractic treatment for lumbar arthritis may not be appropriate in every case, for many these holistic treatments can eliminate much of the pain or discomfort of the condition and “give you your life back.”