Arthritis of the spine, or spinal osteoarthritis, is a condition that can occur when the joints in the spine deteriorate, leading to inflammation. It is fairly common in individuals over the age of 50 due to the years of daily wear and tear that the spinal joints are subjected to. Every bend and twist of the body puts stress on the spine, and when you also consider the weight that the spinal joints must bear, it’s easy to see how degeneration can occur.
Arthritis of the spine occurs in the facet joints, which connect the vertebrae. The contact areas of the joint are coated with cartilage and synovial fluid to allow the bones to glide across one another easily. When this cartilage wears away, bone-on-bone contact can result in inflammation and joint stiffness, and can also lead to the development of a bone spur. If a bone spur forms and compresses a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord, additional symptoms such as radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness can appear.
Managing Arthritis of the Spine
If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine, you’re most likely anxious to learn what your treatment options are. While it’s not possible to completely stop the spread of this condition, there are several conservative and alternative treatment options that can slow its progression and help you find relief from your symptoms. These treatments are designed to reduce inflammation, lessen pain, relieve pressure on the affected area of the spine, and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. Options include:
- Losing excess weight
- Physical therapy
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Facet injectionsPeriods of limited rest
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Massage therapy
If Conservative Therapy Doesn’t Provide Relief
Many individuals dealing with painful symptoms due to arthritis of the spine are able to successfully manage their discomfort by following a conservative treatment plan for several weeks or months. In more severe cases that don’t respond to treatment, however, there are surgical options that may be able to provide needed relief. BEST Health System offers minimally invasive surgical procedures that allow patients to find relief without the need for traditional surgery. Contact the BEST team to learn more about surgery with our premier surgeons.