Spondylosis treatment options vary and depend primarily on the severity of the condition. Other factors that determine the type and scope of treatment include the overall health of the patient, the location within the spine of the condition and the nature of the symptoms. Some people may find relief through very mild conservative treatment, while others may need progressively aggressive treatment as the disease becomes more severe.
Another reason why spondylosis treatment methods differ from patient to patient is because the term “spondylosis” can refer to several different conditions. “Spondylosis” is an umbrella term used by physicians to describe degeneration of the spine, such as degeneration of the intervertebral discs, or another degenerative condition, like osteoarthritis of the spine’s facet joints. Unlike some spinal conditions with similar names, like spondylitis and spondylolisthesis, spondylosis is quite common. This is especially true for people over the age of 50, or for people in their 30s or 40s whose occupations require a great deal of physical exertion or extended periods of sitting, such as office workers and truck drivers.
Spondylosis treatment for mild cases
Since spondylosis is a degenerative condition, symptoms tend to be quite mild at first, and onset is gradual. In fact, most people experience no symptoms at all during the earliest stages of the degenerative spine conditions associated with spondylosis. Many cases never progress past mild-to-moderate symptoms. In cases of mild spondylosis, treatment options include:
- Anti-inflammatory and pain killing medications – For most people, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, or other pain killers, such as acetaminophen, help ease pain symptoms and allow for easier movement. If symptoms are more severe, prescription narcotic medication may be indicated.
- Exercise – Strong muscles and good circulation are absolute necessities for maintaining the integrity of the spine as we age. By participating in regular exercise, especially activities that strengthen the core muscles of the back, abdomen and buttocks, you’ll help improve the support system surrounding your spine, which may lead to a reduction in spondylosis symptoms. However, no one who experiences symptoms related to a degenerative spine condition should begin a new exercise regimen without first consulting his or her physician.
- Heat and ice – Stiffness is a key symptom of spondylosis. Applying heat or ice to affected areas can loosen stiff muscles, reduce inflammation and help you feel better.
Severe spondylosis treatment
In cases that are more severe or do not respond to the above treatments, other options include:
- Muscle relaxants – These prescription medications can help loosen tense muscles or stop painful spasms.
- Alternative medicine – Acupuncture, traction, ultrasounds and chiropractic adjustments are all forms of alternative medicine that many spondylosis patients say relieves symptoms. The efficacy of some alternative or complementary medicine remains up for debate, although many people who try them swear by them. It is important to check with your primary care physician to make sure there are no drug interaction restrictions if you choose to try an alternative form of medication or supplements.
- Corticosteroid injections – For severe pain that does not respond to oral medications, anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injections between the vertebrae may provide some relief. Although extremely effective for the temporary relief of pain and other spondylosis symptoms, injection therapy usually requires a series of treatments and should not be administered more than three times a year in most cases.
If conservative spondylosis treatment does not relieve your pain, contact Laser Spine Institute for more information on how our minimally invasive outpatient procedures can help you find relief from neck or back pain. We will be happy to review your MRI or CT scan to determine whether you might be a candidate.