Lower Back Pain

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis cause back problems?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic disease, which can affect all joints in the body. The facet joints at the level of the lumbar spine are similar to other joints in the body. They contain cartilage, ligaments and synovium and can be modified by Rheumatoid Arthritis. When arthritis affects a person’s joints in the hands, the disease may be very obvious. Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to swollen joints and deformation with a loss of function. Arthritis of the lumbar spine may be less obvious to the sight but can lead to severe symptoms of pain, nerve irritation and weakness. There may be nothing obvious at first glance in your lumbar and lumbosacral spine. However, investigation must be carried out with regard to stenosis, facet joint subluxation, spine instability using X-rays with stress, flexion and extension views and perhaps a CT scan or MRI.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis often involves the intake of Prednisone or other steroid medications, which may have side effects on bone such as osteoporosis treatment. Some compression fractures may occur in the spine. In patients under treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis is is thus important to obtain a detailed evaluation including X-rays and possibly an MRI.

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