Millions of people suffer from the pain of spinal arthritis and are seeking immediate relief. Endless variations of symptoms exist and often include some combination of stiffness, inflammation, painful movement and a loss in range of motion. Therefore many treatments for this malady have evolved over the years to provide relief. Spinal arthritis symptom management should be tailored to meet the nature and intensity of symptoms experienced by the individual. What benefits one may completely fail in another. This is why self-diagnosis and treatment is never advised.
Before deciding upon the course of treatment, it is important to fully understand the types and causes of spinal arthritis. The distinction is important because different types of arthritis will require different types of treatment. For example, spinal arthritis affects the facet joints of the spine. These are the places where the bones of the spine, the vertebrae, meet and connect. A series of facet joints begins in the neck, extends through the middle back and ends in the lower back. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common forms of spinal arthritis are characterized by either the degeneration of cartilage around the facet joints (osteoarthritis of the spine), or the severe inflammation and deformity of the joints themselves (spinal rheumatoid arthritis). With either form of the condition, the result is painful stiffness, and possibly, constriction of nerves in the spinal column. In addition, as the facet joints become less functional and stable, the body may produce extra bone tissue called bone spurs, or osteophytes. These bits of excess bone can press upon nerve roots or the spinal cord as well. Spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal and other nerve passageways – also may arise as the joints and vertebrae are damaged by arthritis.
Spinal arthritis pain relief treatments may include mild chiropractic therapy focusing on the joints of the spine. With this treatment, tension is released and circulation is increased. Strength-building exercises may help support the spine, relieving pressure on arthritic joints by reducing the weight they are required to bear. Low-impact exercises like walking, gentle stretching or swimming help build endurance. Steroid injections may temporarily help pain that results from joint inflammation. The goal of these non-surgical treatments isn’t to cure the arthritis, but rather to help manage symptoms, improve or maintain range of motion and strengthen the neck and back. Yet, in order to determine what course of non-surgical approach has the best chance of working, it is extremely important to enlist the expertise of a physician as not all techniques work the same for every patient. Variables, such as the location, cause and severity of the spinal arthritis, should dictate the treatment regimen.
If these conservative forms of spinal arthritis pain relief do not prove effective, your physician may suggest that you consider a major open-back surgery. These surgeries may include the following:
- Spinal fusion – using screws and bone grafts to reinforce areas where bone was taken away. This immobilizes sections of the spine, thereby reducing friction and pain from joint movement.
- Laminectomy – removal of the lamina of one or more vertebrae. This involves excision of supporting bone from the spinal column.
These surgeries involve an in-patient hospital stay lasting several days and a long recuperative period. There are, however, less invasive alternatives to traditional surgeries. The experts at Laser Spine Institute can inform you about minimally invasive surgical procedures that may help address the symptoms of spinal arthritis without the trauma of open-back surgery. Our outpatient procedures have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from degenerative spinal conditions. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.