There are many effective treatment options for arthritis of the spine. However, it is important to understand that arthritis in the back cannot be reversed or cured. Rather, the goals of treatment are to slow the progression of the degeneration, relieve symptoms, preserve mobility and maximize function.
When spinal arthritis causes discomfort, the pain is usually related to nerve compression. As the spine slowly breaks down over time, swelling and inflammation can occur. Also, the body may produce protective bone spurs to shore up weakened spinal joints. All of these changes can result in less space available for the spinal cord and nerve roots. If a spinal nerve becomes pressured as a result, a number of symptoms can develop, including neck or back pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling sensations (which may travel all the way down one arm or leg). These are the most common reasons people seek treatment for arthritis of the spine.
Can arthritis in the back be treated without surgery?
In general, the first line of treatment for pain and stiffness caused by spinal arthritis is conservative therapy. A key focus is to reduce the pain to a manageable level to allow for participation in physical activities, which can be very beneficial for rehabilitation purposes.
Prior to considering surgery to address arthritis of the spine, many physicians recommend a combined treatment approach based on several factors, including the severity of the degeneration, which joints are affected and the nature of the symptoms, as well as the patient’s medical history, age, occupation and lifestyle. For instance, a treatment plan for spinal arthritis may include:
- Regular rest breaks to help prevent painful flare-ups
- Hot and cold compresses
- Physical therapy, including stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Pain-relieving medications
- Therapeutic massage
Spinal arthritis surgery at USA Spine Care
If you’re experiencing painful arthritis in your back, contact USA Spine Care for help in exploring your treatment options. Our team can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery to address arthritis of the spine.