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Arthritis and Rheumatism

What are the symptoms arthritis of the spine?

07/27/1999

Question:

What are some of the symptoms of arthritis of the spine? There is not too much information on the spine. I have no other signs of arthritis but I do have lumbar scolious. Bad pain at night on my right side prevents me from sleeping well. What can be done for lumbar scolious or arthritis of the spine? I don`t know what is causing the pain. I also have trouble climbing stairs with my left leg I`d aprecciate your help. Thank you

Answer:

Arthritis of the spine can have many different causes, including osteoarthritis, inflammatory types of arthritis, metabolic conditions, including osteoporosis, infection, and tumors. Common symptoms include back pain, pain that radiates into the arms or legs, and muscle weakness. Your leg pain problem climbing stairs, for example, could be due to a problem in the joints or muscles of that leg or to a back problem that causes pressure on a nerve going to the leg. Not all back pain is caused by arthritis of the back; muscle spasms unrelated to arthritis of the back and kidney, gall bladder, and pancreatic problems, for example, can also cause back pain. Lumbar scoliosis can also be caused by many problems: it may be something that you grew up with that you are only noticing now or something that is caused by some of the same conditions that can cause back arthritis. It may be related to the pain at night in your right side, or that pain might be caused by something else. Treatment of back arthritis will depend on what is causing it, its severity, and whether it is causing pressure on the spinal cord or nerves that leads to muscle weakness. Treatment can include exercises, weight loss, pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, and muscle relaxants. Other medications and even surgery may also be appropriate, depending on the cause of the arthritis and pain. Because the symptoms you describe can have many different causes and their treatment depends on their cause, you should visit your family physician to investigate your problem. A detailed history, a physical exam, some x-ray studies, and possibly, blood or urine tests may be necessary to find the cause of your problem. In some cases, your physician may find it helpful to have you seen by an orthopedic surgeon or a rheumatologist to find the cause and determine the best treatment.

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Response by:

Fred Finkelman, MD
Director, Division of Immunology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati