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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chris Phillips

Managing Back Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis



Back pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging to manage. But there are strategies and treatments to help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. 


Here are 6 tips to reduce and prevent back pain according to the Arthritis Foundation and our healthcare team at Paducah Rheumatology. 


  1. Medication Management: We recommend working closely with a rheumatologist to develop an effective medication regimen for managing RA symptoms, including back pain. This may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), corticosteroids, or biologic agents. Consult with your rheumatologist to determine the best medication for your unique disease management plan.


  1. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a tailored exercise program to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, improve flexibility, and enhance posture. Physical therapy can also provide education on proper body mechanics and techniques for reducing strain on the spine during daily activities.


  1. Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat packs or cold packs to the affected area can help alleviate pain and inflammation in the spine. Experiment with both heat and cold therapy to determine which option provides the most relief for your symptoms.


  1. Postural Support: Using supportive devices such as ergonomic chairs, lumbar cushions, or orthopedic pillows can help maintain proper spinal alignment and reduce strain on the back. Consider making ergonomic adjustments to your workspace and home environment to promote better posture and comfort.


  1. Low-Impact Exercise: Engage in low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, or walking to improve cardiovascular health, joint flexibility, and overall well-being. These activities can help manage weight, reduce stress on the joints, and alleviate back pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.


  1. Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to promote relaxation and reduce tension in the muscles surrounding the spine. Managing stress effectively can help alleviate back pain and improve overall quality of life.


While rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects the joints, it can also cause back pain due to inflammation, spinal joint involvement, and disc damage. 


By understanding the connection between RA and back pain and implementing appropriate strategies for management, individuals living with this condition can find relief and maintain mobility and function. Work closely with your healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs, and don't hesitate to explore various options for managing back pain effectively. 


With the right approach, it's possible to mitigate the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on the spine and lead a fulfilling and active life.

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