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The facet joints on either side of the five lumbar vertebrae are susceptible to arthritis in elderly patients. Lumbar arthritis is inflammation of these joints, often brought about after years of wear on the bones. Swelling in the facet joints will compress nerves in the area and irritate surrounding tissues as well as damage the affected bone.
- Pain during movement and at rest
- Pain that radiates down buttocks or lower extremities
- Numbness/Tingling in the lumbar region or lower extremities
Treatment for Lumbar Arthritis
Physical therapy is the first option for treatment of lumbar arthritis. A physical therapist may use a method called traction, which stretches the lower back, decompressing the joints. Stretching the muscles of the lower back and extremities will also take pressure off the spine. Strengthening exercises will target the core and lumbar muscles, supporting the spine to keep bones from wearing down on each other. A physical therapist can evaluate a patient’s posture and movements to recommend ways of sitting, sleeping, and performing activities that will relieve pressure on the lumbar vertebrae.
Your orthopedist may suggest using a corticosteroid injection to supplement physical therapy. A steroid injection directly into the affected faet joints can provide anti-inflammatory relief for months at a time. This therapy can also be repeated without risks.