Alright everyone, it’s Matt and Jordan here with Aspen Ridge Physical Therapy in Layton. We’ve talked a lot about low back pain, and today we are going to talk about back pain related to arthritis. In the medical field there are many terms associated with arthritis, but essentially they all are some form of wear/tear or degeneration of the body’s joints and cartilage. Whether we call it stenosis, or arthrosis, OA, degenerative joint/disc disease, spondylosis, etc. – essentially this condition results from the breakdown of cartilage around the end of bones and can cause significant pain.

While anybody can get arthritis, typically this results in your older age. It may be safe to say that practically everyone will eventually suffer some of the pain that comes with arthritis. However, this can develop as well from genetics, or some type of trauma or injury at a younger age which impacts the cartilage and thus results in arthritis developing much younger than normal.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis (specific to the low back):

  • Age 50+
  • Stiffness, often felt more in the morning (which ‘loosens’ the more you move)
  • Typically back extension (or arching your back) is painful
  • Standing or walking (in extended position) is painful, while bending forward (or flexing back) helps relieve the pain
  • Sometimes pain down the leg(s) as the arthritis or osteophytes compress a nerve as you extend your back (can result in numbness / tingling)
  • Lack of flexibility during back motions

I like to give my patients a helpful analogy when they come in with this condition, and I call it the ‘rusty hinge analogy.’ I direct their attention to the door to the eval room and ask them what would happen to the hinge if I left that door closed for 20 years. The typical response is that it won’t open or be rusty and creak and not move well. They are right! I then tell them that if I open and close the door every day and put some WD-40 on it occasionally, that the hinge will still work and move well in 20 years (despite the fact that it is an ‘old hinge’). Obviously our joints – or ‘hinges’ – act the same way. Sometimes we can’t get a new hinge, but the more we move and lubricate the ‘hinge’ the better it will feel and move.

So, while we can’t give you a new ‘hinge’ – as Physical Therapists, we absolutely know that the more we move our ‘hinges’ – the less pain and the more motion we will experience. Thus, exercise is the most important prescription for people with arthritis. Our job is to create a customized exercise and treatment plan according to your condition to help reduce that pain.

Our doctors of Physical Therapy here at Aspen Ridge Physical Therapy will evaluate your movement and create a customized plan specific to you. We do manual hands on therapy, soft tissue mobilization, pain relieving modalities, and exercises within a pain free range to help you restore your function. We have treated many patients in this situation and are confident we can help you. We treat patients from Davis County and Weber County, and are located in Layton. Call us today with any questions or to set up an appointment. You can reach us at 801-773-1350.