All joints in the body can be affected by inflammation, including the ones of the spine. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common inflammatory conditions, affecting in general middle-aged adults. There are many triggers that can lead to the appearance of such acute conditions, with one of the primary symptoms being back pain. In regard to gender, it seems that women are more susceptible to such conditions, in comparison to men. Keep on reading and discover more signs that might guide you towards the arthritis diagnosis.
#1 Progressive Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common signs of osteoarthritis, being the kind of pain that comes and go. At the beginning, it might appear quite rarely but, as the condition progresses, you will find the pain to be quite intense and present more and more often. This is because the cartilage between the vertebrae will go through a wear and tear process, especially if you adopt unhealthy postures. In time, as the cartilage no longer protects the joints, an inflammatory process is going to occur. This will lead to degenerative joint disease, with pinched nerves and herniated discs as complications.
#2 Reduced Range of Motion
When one suffers from joint pain, it is a normal response for that person to stop moving the said joint. This leads to stiffness and reduced range of motion, which will further aggravate the experienced pain. The patient practically finds himself/herself in a vicious cycle. As you stop using the joints, the muscles that facilitate movements in those joints become stiff as well, which further aggravates the existing problems. The reduced range of motion appears a compensatory response to the severe pain.
#3 Radiating Neck Pain
We have all suffered from neck pain, at least one or twice in our lives. However, when the neck pain radiates towards the head and also to the shoulders, it can be a sign that you are suffering from arthritis. This pain is often caused by improper postures, such as spending too much time looking at the computer screen or on other devices (smartphone, tablet). The radiating neck pain is accompanied by a wide range of symptoms, including stiffness, reduced range of motion and tingling sensation (might suggest a nerve being pinched).
#4 Numbness/Tingling Sensation in Superior Extremities
In the situation that a nerve has been compressed at the level of the spine, it is quite possible to experience numbness or a tingling sensation at the level of the extremities (arms, hands or fingers). Each level of the spine corresponds to a different part of the body; if a spinal nerve is pinched at a superior level (cervical or thoracic), specific symptoms are going to appear in your arms, hands and fingers. The pinching can be partial or complete, hence the tingling or numbness.
#5 Leg Weakness
When it comes to joint pain causes, you have to take into consideration the sedentary lifestyle. This is responsible for the appearance of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. If you are suffering from low back pain or sciatica, one of the most important signs of watch out for is leg weakness. If that weakness is accompanied by pain, numbness or tingling, it is guaranteed we are talking about arthritis of the spine. Left untreated, this can lead to further complications, such as spinal stenosis, disc compression or herniated discs.
If you are feeling more tired than usual, you can suspect arthritis as one of the potential causes. The inflammatory process occurring at the level of the spine will take a toll on your body, leaving you drained of energy. Moreover, as your joints are going to become stiff, you will get more easily fatigued, even when trying to perform simple movements. Fatigue is an early indicator of inflammatory conditions, so make sure you get yourself checked out.
#7 Lack of Quality Sleep
If you are tossing and turning all night, it might be a sign that you are suffering from osteoarthritis. The back pain can be so intense, that it will interfere with your regular sleep patterns. However, before the back pain becomes so severe, other symptoms are going to affect the quality of sleep. The inflammation is going to limit your range of motion, preventing you from assuming certain sleeping positions, which otherwise would have been restful. You need to get your spine checked out, before the arthritis process leads to serious complications.
These are some of the signs that should guide you towards the arthritis diagnosis. Back pain is one of the most important signs to take into consideration, especially if it is accompanied by stiffness and a reduced range of motion. Do not wait until you experience tingling or numbness, as these are signs that spinal nerves are already pinched.