Within the spinal column, there are several soft structures, including flexible cartilage and rubber-like discs. These help to support the spine, prevent injury, and cushion the vertebrae. Arthritis in the neck and lower back occurs when these structures begin to weaken and shrink. Pain or weakness can result from increased tension between vertebrae, causing bone spurs that can lead to compressed or “pinched” nerves in the spine. There are many different kinds of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis (usually occurs due to old age, strain from movement, or injury) and rheumatoid arthritis (occurs as a result of an autoimmune condition).
The most common treatment for arthritis of the neck and lower back includes some combination of lifestyle changes (diet and exercise), physical therapy, and pain medication (like over-the-counter pain relievers, NSAIDS, muscle relaxers, and mild narcotics). In some cases, the pain specialist may recommend steroid injections in the spine to block pain in the affected nerves. Although uncommon, surgery may become necessary to treat certain specific causes of neck and lower back arthritis pain.