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Should hot or cold therapy be used to treat arthritis of the spine?

While an arthritis of the spine diagnosis sounds daunting, it’s a much more common condition than you might realize and there are treatment options available that can help you find relief from your symptoms. Also referred to as spinal osteoarthritis, arthritis of the spine occurs in the facet joints — which link the vertebrae and allow them to move back and forth against one another. Every bending or twisting movement you make involves the facet joints, and when you factor in the body weight that these joints must bear, the wear and tear they go through on a daily basis can be extreme. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for people over the age of 50 to experience deterioration in the cartilage lining their facet joints, which can lead to the development of spinal osteoarthritis.

Common symptoms of arthritis of the spine are localized pain and inflammation and joint stiffness due to bone grinding against bone in the joint. If a bone spur forms in the joint and compresses a nerve root or the spinal cord, you may also experience numbness, tingling, pain and muscle weakness that can radiate to other areas of the body.

Can hot and cold therapy help your symptoms?

If arthritis of the spine symptoms are interfering with your daily life, alternating the use of hot and cold compresses will likely be part of the treatment regimen that your physician recommends. By applying heat directly to the affected area of the spine you can increase the circulation to the area and aid the healing process. Icing the area, on the other hand, can help to reduce swelling and temporarily numb your pain. While cold therapy should be limited to no more than 20 minutes at a time, moderate heat can be applied for longer periods for greater effectiveness.

Other conservative treatments your physician may recommend include pain and anti-inflammatory medications, light strengthening and stretching exercises and facet injections.

USA Spine Care treatment options

If your symptoms persist after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, you can receive a free MRI review* at USA Spine Care to help determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive surgical treatment for arthritis of the spine. Our outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^

If you would like to learn more about the minimally invasive arthritis of the spine treatment options we offer, contact USA Spine Care today.

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