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See a WellStar physician right away if your back pain is severe, flares up after a fall or injury or your symptoms also include:

  • Fever or unexplained weight loss
  • Pain or numbness in legs
  • Pain and difficulty urinating
  • Weakness in one or both legs

"An estimated 46 million adults in the United States some form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis affecting more than 27 million adults – is the most common type of neck and back arthritis."

*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Neck & Back Arthritis Overview

Arthritis is inflammation of the joint, which leads to pain. The forms of arthritis have their own pattern of symptoms and affects people in different ways. There are two major types of arthritis:


Sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis, or degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is common form of arthritis in the neck and lower back.

  • The onset of osteoarthritis is usually after age 50.
  • Contributing factors include obesity, genetics and previous trauma
  • Symptoms include pain and limited of mobility.


Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in people of all ages. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Chronic inflammation of the joint lining
  • Secondary destruction of cartilage
  • Stiffness, joint swelling, weakness of ligaments, pain, and a decrease of movement in the joint

The neck and back – also known as the spinal column – are made up of 33 bones called vertebrae that run from the base of the skull to the pelvis. The hollow vertebrae form a tube-like case to protect the spinal cord.

The breakdown of the cartilage of the facet joints, where the vertebrae join, causes the inflammation and pain associated with neck and back arthritis. Without the cushioning of the cartilage, movement of the vertebrae can cause irritation, further damage and the formation of bony outgrowths called spurs, which may cause pain by pressing on nerves.

The lower back is the most common site of arthritis back pain.

A number of factors interact to cause neck and back arthritis including a genetic predisposition to abnormal cartilage metabolism, major or minor repetitive injures and certain occupations. While being overweight does not necessarily cause arthritis, it certainly contributes to the symptoms of neck and back arthritis.


  • Stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Pain during and after moving neck or back
  • Loss of flexibility

Risk Factors

The causes of most types of arthritis are unknown, but genetic factors, injuries and your current lifestyle contribute. If you are overweight, it is a risk factor.