Treating Osteoarthritis of the Spine
For most patients with arthritis of the spine, surgery is not the most effective method for treating their condition. Osteoarthritis of the spine is a painful disease that occurs when a patient’s facet joints, the joints that facilitate movement between the vertebrae, degenerate. As the natural aging process occurs, the cartilage that lines the facet joints wears down. If this degeneration progresses enough, movement between the bones leads to symptoms like pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
Nonsurgical Treatment Alternatives
Most patients with arthritis of the spine do not require surgery to manage their symptoms. Instead, treatment usually begins with a combination of conservative treatment methods. There are five commonly used surgery alternatives for patients with arthritis of the spine. These methods are:
- Pain management — A combination of over-the-counter medicine (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs), prescription narcotics, spinal bracing, and injections may be used to manage a patient’s pain.
- Physical therapy — Physical therapy is often useful in improving the strength, flexibility, and mobility of patients with arthritis of the spine.
- Chiropractic care — A chiropractor can manually adjust a patient’s spine to relieve pain temporarily.
- Alternative medicine — Nontraditional therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, herbal medication, and yoga are sometimes useful in relieving a patient’s symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes — Lifestyle modifications can potentially lessen the severity of spinal arthritis. These modifications may include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, practicing good posture, sleeping on a mattress of medium firmness, and avoiding periods of prolonged inactivity.
BEST Health System
When all other conservative treatment has failed, arthritis of the spine surgery may be necessary to relieve a patient’s symptoms. As with any surgery, patients must understand all their options before agreeing to traditional open spine surgery, which involves large incisions and hospitalization. One alternative to open spine surgery is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. At BEST Health System, our board-certified surgeons specialize in these procedures and help patients find the least-invasive option. Contact BEST to learn more today.