6 Tips for Back Pain Arthritis Relief   

6 Tips for Back Pain Arthritis Relief

Elderly woman with a back ache from arthritis pain.

November 07, 2023

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Craig Van Dien, M.D.

Back pain can be a common and frustrating symptom of osteoarthritis. “Back pain caused by osteoarthritis can have a ripple effect, impacting your ability to sleep well, move around and do your daily tasks,” says Craig Van Dien, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. “But there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce this discomfort and get you back to living your life.”

Dr. Van Dien provides six tips for relieving back pain due to osteoarthritis.

1. Get moving. 

Movement is key to preventing stiffness in your joints. “You don’t need to do intensive exercise,” says Dr. Van Dien. “Even simple exercises such as walking or beginner’s yoga can help you maintain a broader range of motion and healthy joints.”

2. Achieve a healthy weight.

Extra weight is detrimental to your health in many ways, including your joints. Extra pounds add stress to your joints, which makes them deteriorate faster. “Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the burden and pain on your joints,” says Dr. Van Dien.

3. Quit smoking.

Smoking is widely known to be bad for the lungs and heart. It has also been linked to numerous cancers that affect various systems of the body. 

“Most people would be surprised to know that smoking can also affect your joints,” says Dr. Van Dien. “Smoking accelerates cartilage loss in your joints, which increases the severity of the osteoarthritis and aggravates the pain you may be experiencing.”

4. Maintain good posture.

Maintaining proper posture will align your spine and relieve joint pain. It will also decrease the pressure on your joints and, in turn, decrease wear and tear on your spine. 

To achieve good posture, you may need to:

  • change your footwear
  • reposition your desk chair to be more ergonomic
  • wear vision corrective glasses to prevent hunching over to read your computer screen

5. Try massage therapy.

Studies have shown that massage therapy can reduce back pain. It can also help improve sleep and reduce anxiety, which can contribute to poor posture and tense muscles, resulting in more pain and stiffness.

6. Try heat & cold therapy.

Heat can help ease stiffness and reduce stress. Cold compresses can also reduce pain and swelling—but using ice too long can cause stiffness, so it should be used in moderation. To avoid damaging the skin, always use a towel between your skin and the cold pack.

“A combination of these techniques may help reduce pain temporarily, but if your back pain is persistent or becomes more severe, you should see your doctor,” says Dr. Van Dien. “You may benefit from further medical intervention such as physical therapy, cortisone shots or possibly even surgery in extreme cases.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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