A common result of the general wear and tear that the spine endures, arthritis of the spine is a condition that can develop when the cushioning cartilage in the facets joints wears away. While the cartilage in the facet joints normally allow the vertebrae to glide easily across one another, bones in the joint can begin to grind when the cartilage breaks down. This can lead to inflammation and back stiffness, and the body may respond by forming an osteophyte, or bone spur, to help stabilize the joint. If this occurs and the bone spur comes in contact with the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root, more intense symptoms such as radiating pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness can result, and you will need to consider your arthritis of the spine treatment options.
Nonsurgical treatment options
If your physician has determined that your symptoms are the result of arthritis of the spine, your treatment options may include a variety of therapies that you can attempt on your own, in the comfort of your home. These include:
- Lifestyle modifications. One of your main goals should be reducing the strain on your spine. Losing excess weight, using better posture, avoiding frequent bending or heavy lifting and eliminating tobacco use are some options to consider.
- Light stretching and strengthening exercises. Following your doctor’s suggestions, you can utilize stretching and strengthening exercises to improve flexibility and help build the muscles that are supporting the spine.
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can be effective methods for reducing inflammation in the spine and reducing your pain.
- Periods of rest. It’s important that you give your spine limited periods of rest to help reduce inflammation.
- Hot and cold therapy. Alternating hot and cold compresses on the affected area can help increase circulation and reduce inflammation.
- Alternative therapies. Some individuals choose to include alternative arthritis of the spine treatment options like restorative yoga in their regimens, though the clinical effectiveness of alternative treatments is still being debated.
Additional treatment options that you may also consider include physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, chiropractic care and others.
Treating arthritis of the spine through surgery
Several weeks or months of conservative and alternative treatments will likely produce the level of symptom relief you are looking for and allow you to return to an active lifestyle. However, if your symptoms persist or become more severe, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at USA Spine Care. Our surgeons perform outpatient procedures that use less than a 1-inch incision and utilize muscle-sparing techniques as treatment for arthritis of the spine and many other degenerative spine conditions.
To learn more about minimally invasive surgery at USA Spine Care, contact us today.