Spinal arthritis treatment can range anywhere from mild massage to surgical procedures. Before you explore these options, however, it is important that you have the basic facts about spinal arthritis, its causes, and its effects.
Arthritis is a broad term that refers to the inflammation of joints within the body. Spinal arthritis can affect the entire spinal column, starting with the facet joints and, in most cases, spreading to the intervertebral discs. Arthritis of the spine can take two forms: osteoarthritis or spinal rheumatoid arthritis. Although they are different in nature, both commonly affect older individuals and can be extremely debilitating, which makes the proper spinal arthritis treatment imperative.
While osteoarthritis is typically an age-related degeneration of the cartilage in the facet joints and the intervertebral discs, spinal rheumatoid arthritis is defined as swelling of the synovial lining (synovium) on the facet joints. Either disorder can have serious consequences, such as bones spurs (extra bone deposits on the joints) and spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal). Possible causes range from aging, obesity, and overuse of joints, to hereditary factors or a weakened immune system due to illness. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include throbbing pain, diminished range of motion, stiffness, difficulty getting out of bed, and a crunching feeling (bone rubbing on bone). Symptoms of spinal rheumatoid arthritis are similar, although they also may include warm pain, swelling, spinal deformity or fatigue, all of which should prompt you to seek spinal arthritis treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine, your physician may recommend a conservative treatment schedule that includes maintaining a healthy weight, physical therapy, exercise, pain medication, rest, and anti-inflammatory steroid injections. However, in severe cases, your physician may also suggest one of the following types of surgeries:
- Joint replacement: reserved for extreme cases; affected facet joint is replaced with an artificial joint
- Spinal fusion: bone grafts or hardware used to join two sections of bone, thereby eliminating movement in the joint with the goal of reducing pain
- Laminectomy: removal of bone (lamina)
The above surgeries and others typically will require recovery periods of up to a year. These procedures are done on an in-patient basis, and there is a risk of scarring or infection.
The award-winning surgeons at Laser Spine Institute have performed minimally-invasive procedures that have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from back and neck pain. Contact us today for more information, or for your MRI or CT scan review.