Is Arthritis Causing Your Chronic Back Pain?

Jun 06, 2023
misc image
If you have chronic back pain, arthritis could be to blame. It’s one of the most common pain conditions in the country, and it gets increasingly common with age. Learn the signs of spinal arthritis and find a treatment plan that’s right for you.

About 16 million Americans live with back pain. And while there are numerous possible causes, one of the most common is arthritis.

Arthritis is a degenerative joint condition that can affect any joint in your body, including the joints in your spine. If you’re dealing with spinal pain and stiffness, it’s time to find out the cause, so you can start the right treatment.

William Graham, MD, and our team at Sporting Medicine in Charlotte, North Carolina, specialize in arthritis care for adults of all ages, and we offer a range of customizable solutions. Here’s what you need to know.

Identifying the symptoms of spinal arthritis

Spinal arthritis, or spondylosis, happens when the cartilage that cushions your joints starts to wear down over time. This causes your vertebral bones to rub against each other, which causes pain and inflammation.

Unfortunately, arthritis is a degenerative condition that can keep progressing without the proper care. Eventually, spinal arthritis can lead to bone spurs and make your spinal canal get narrower — both of which can put pressure on your nerves and cause more pain.

The symptoms of back arthritis can vary depending on the severity of your condition, but a few of the most common are:


Back pain is the most common symptom of back arthritis. The pain may be dull or sharp, and it may feel worse after long periods of rest. Spinal arthritis can cause pain anywhere from your lower back to your neck.


Inflammation and swelling in the joints of your spine may make your back feel stiff and uncomfortable. This symptom is often worse after resting, and it may make it difficult to move freely and perform your usual daily activities.

Numbness or tingling

If you have bone spurs or a narrowing of your spinal canal that puts pressure on your spinal cord, you might experience nerve symptoms, such as numbness or tingling. These symptoms can manifest in your arms or legs, depending on which nerves are most affected.


Spinal arthritis and nerve damage can also contribute to muscle weakness in your back. This, in turn, may make it harder to perform tasks that require strength.

Treating spinal arthritis

While there’s no cure for spinal arthritis, there’s a lot we can do to help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life. The best treatment plan for you will depend on your symptoms and overall health. However, we often recommend a combination of treatments.

First, we perform a physical exam and go over your medical history. If needed, we can also order diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, to evaluate your condition further. Once we know what’s causing your back pain, we develop a treatment plan, which may include any of the following:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is a completely noninvasive treatment that can be very effective for people with spinal arthritis. Participating in physical therapy can help improve your flexibility, strengthen your back muscles, and reduce your pain. Your physical therapist will combine stretches, exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques to help relieve your symptoms.


Along with physical therapy, we offer a variety of medications that can help fight arthritis pain and inflammation. Dr. Graham also specializes in joint injections, such as corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid injections. He also offers regenerative medicine, such as cell injections and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

Home treatment

We may also recommend trying heat and cold therapy at home. This would typically involve using a heating pad or ice pack on your back for up to 20 minutes and alternating between the two several times a day to reduce inflammation.

Do you have back pain? We can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps. To learn more, call 704-503-9023 or book an appointment online with Sporting Medicine today.