Joint pain pain and back pain are not two foreign areas of study. By definition a joint is "the point of contact between elements of an animal skeleton with the parts that surround and support" (Merriam Webster). In fact, the spine itself is made up of several joints.
The discs of the spine prevent two vertebrae (bony levels of the spine) from contacting each other and becoming a fused joint. What is not commonly discussed is that arthritis of the spinal joints can occur at any point in our aging. As we age the discs can reduce its integrity and cause an increased rubbing of one bone against the other. This leads to inflammation and then pain. The cartilage between our facet joints reduce over time as well to create the same results. Aside from age alone we can live lives that produce repetitive patterns of motion that create an earlier onset of arthritis.
In the publication "Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders" in 2014 researchers found "increased to $321.8 billion in 2003, compared to $233.5 billion in 1997" was spent on medical costs for arthritis and rheumatic conditions. The research goes on to state,
"In 2002, it was estimated that 43 million adults suffered from arthritis. Of those, 26.9 million adults aged 25 years or older had OA (osteoarthritis). One in four people is expected to develop symptomatic OA in his or her lifetime." (To read the research click here -->>Osteoarthritis in Young, Active, and Athletic Individuals)
What we can learn from this discussion is that we need to be more proactive at maintaining joint health. It is evident now, more than ever, for the public to understand the anatomy of joints (see past post "Frozen Joints: Why Changing Weather Causes Joint Pain") and supply methods for creating relief beyond the use of surgical and pharmacological prescriptions. Health and fitness professionals can serve our communities better by instructing wellness programs to improve joint motion and manage joint inflammation.
The above mentioned study goes on to conclude, "Exercise remains the recommended initial treatment for OA in all populations. NSAIDs (ex. acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, naproxen) braces, and surgery are other treatment modalities for OA. The treatment of OA in the athlete or young individual should be patient specific, with consideration for the patient’s expectations and the period of absence from sports activities."
Daily stretching of your back, legs and arms can help open up the joint space and reduce pain. Utilize our YouTube Channel Alta Physical Therapy NYC for several videos on back, neck, and hip mobility stretching and range of motion to improve joint and muscles stiffness.
Visit us if you're in the NYC area or talk to your own physical therapist (PT) about joint health and remember you don't need to see a physician's referral to see a physical therapist. Direct Access gives you the freedom to see a P.T. first. (Click here --> To read more about Direct Access)
For more information on arthritis and exercise check out these pages:
1 - The Secret To Joint Pain Relief - Harvard
2 - Exercise Helps Joint Pain and Stiffness - The Mayo Clinic
3 - Simple Exercises for Joint Health - WebMD