Arthritis of the spine affects the facet joints, which, when healthy, allow the vertebrae to glide back and forth against one another. As we age, however, the natural wear and tear that these joints endure can cause the cushioning cartilage in the joint to wear away. When this happens, the bone-on-bone friction that results can cause the development of spinal osteoarthritis. Characterized by localized pain, inflammation and joint stiffness, arthritis of the spine can also lead to the growth of bone spurs, and additional symptoms can appear if a bone spur compresses a nerve root or the spinal cord.
Treating arthritis of the spine
While it’s not possible to “fix” spinal osteoarthritis, there are surgical procedures that can relieve nerve irritation and compression as well as provide more stability to the affected area of the spine, reducing the symptoms of the condition. Fortunately, arthritis of the spine surgery is only necessary in severe cases that don’t respond to other treatments. In many cases, arthritis of the spine symptoms can be managed through conservative and alternative treatments such as:
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Facet injections
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Yoga or Pilates
- Massage therapy
- Hot and/or cold therapy
Another useful course of action to consider is modifying your lifestyle to avoid factors that could further aggravate your condition, such as using poor posture, bending and lifting frequently, using tobacco products and participating in high-impact sports.
When to consider surgery
Arthritis of the spine surgery may become a valid consideration if you’ve tried nonsurgical treatments for several weeks or months and your symptoms have stayed the same or worsened. If you would like to avoid the lengthy recoveries that can be associated with traditional open spine surgery, USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive surgery as a safer and effective alternative.^