Osteoarthritis is the chronic breakdown of the cartilage in a joint. Joints subjected to regular and heavy tension, such as knees, hips, or those between the vertebrae - including the lower part of the spine -, are the most vulnerable to osteoarthritis. In the case of lumbar osteoarthritis, it is articulations of the lumbar vertebrae (intervertebral discs or facet joints on the back of the vertebra) that are victims of this wearing.
Lumbar osteoarthritis is relatively common, mainly because this part of the body (the lower back) is constantly used to support most of the body's weight. The wear on this part of your spine can be due to different sports (weightlifting, bodybuilding, etc..), but also caused by the everyday lifestyle for movers or road workers for example.
The main symptom of lumbar osteoarthritis (which also has become known as degenerative disc disease) is lower back pain (LBP). It is accompanied by joint stiffness and thus a decrease in lumbar mobility.
Lumbar osteoarthritis can also compress the sciatic nerve, which can cause pain in the legs all the way down to the toes. A herniated disc, an abnormal protrusion of the disc that causes the same symptoms, can also accompany lumbar osteoarthritis.
The diagnosis of lumbar osteoarthritis begins with the observation of the patient and his back pain. The doctor will take particular interest in his age, his history of back pain and the onset of pain circumstances.
A clinical examination will test the flexibility of the back and possibly the reflexes of the lower limbs. Muscle strength may also be assessed. The search for pain along the sciatic nerve by the Lasègue maneuver - which consists of, in the lying position, seeking position at which the leg must be elevated to feel pain along the back of it - is also practiced.
To confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, a radiological assessment is generally carried out. The use of a CT scan or MRI is exceptional, but may be necessary for proven the existence of a herniated disc.
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but the pain it causes can be limited. Treatment of lumbar osteoarthritis is based on the cessation of activities and the taking of painkillers. Paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs are most often prescribed. Muscle relaxants used to relax the muscles of the back can also be used.
The prescription of corticosteroids may be in the form of injection (directly near the area affected by osteoarthritis) or tablets. A surgical solution may be necessary in advanced arthritis that debilitating and uncontrollable by other treatments.
It is possible to limit the effects of osteoarthritis by treating directly at the onset of symptoms. Taking care of joints that have a risk of osteoarthritis should done as early as possible.