You’ve been told that your back pain is due to ‘arthritis‘ in your low back. What exactly does that mean? What is it that is causing your back pain? Most importantly for you: How can an osteopath help fix this kind of back pain?

Arthritis in the lower back is technically called lumbar spondylosis – which simply means a degeneration of the vertebrae or the joints between them that is causing a ‘reactionary’ growth of little bits of bone (osteophytes). These bits of bone affect joint movement and can irritate the delicate structures of the joint and surrounding tissues -causing low back pain.

The effect of this irritation is called more generally an ‘arthritis’ (joint inflammation or irritation) and can feel like aching, pain and stiffness. Movement can make the pain worse but make the stiffness better, which is why you sometimes feel stiffer in the morning but less stiff as the day wears on. Local muscle tissue and movement can become dysfunctional and contribute to your low back pain. This part of the low back pain often feels like it is spreading through your back and buttocks.

Like other kinds of arthritis, there are two ‘phases’ that come and go: arthritis and arthrosis. ‘Arthrosis’ simply means degeneration.  There can be periods when the pain is more of a problem (‘-itis’ phase of the problem) and then times when stiffness is more of a problem (‘-osis’ phase of the problem).  And there can be periods when it doesn’t bother you much at all.

Lumbar spine spondylosis is very common as people age. Most people do not suffer serious problems or bad low back pain because of it, however for some people the back pain can be severe. When this kind of arthritis is severe, the bony overgrowth it causes can disrupt inter-vertebral disc movement, can affect spinal stability and be involved in compression of nerves leading to sciatica. It is important to know that the level of back pain that you feel is not always a good indicator of how severe your arthritis is. Some people, particularly those who have had back pain for a long time, will have more pain with a less severe condition because their nervous system is ‘primed’ to generate pain signals in situations where they normally do not.

Osteopaths are well trained healthcare professionals and will assess your low back pain thoroughly. This will include lots of questions, a full assessment and possibly neurological screening.  What kind of treatment is suggested will depend on many factors. However generally the approach will include advice on pain relief (which can include stretching and hydrotherapy), gentle manual treatments to relieve pain, promote tissue health and joint movement – and – crucially – exercise advice. You can rest assured that your osteopath will work as needed with your healthcare team – to help you get better faster.

To get gentle effective treatment for your low back pain in the Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Holland Park areas of London, call Tracy Hannigan on 020 3143 3163 or Book Online.