Considering surgery for arthritis of the spine

Arthritis of the spine is a general term that usually refers to spinal osteoarthritis, which is inflammation of the spinal facet joints caused by the wearing away of protective joint cartilage. The symptoms related to this condition can range from minor aches and stiffness to debilitating pain caused by spinal nerve compression. Treatment for arthritis of the spine typically begins with conservative options, with surgery usually being reserved for patients with severe symptoms that have not responded to other therapies.

Who might need surgery for spinal arthritis?

Most people with spinal osteoarthritis find some relief from conservative approaches like making lifestyle changes, taking medication, applying heat or ice to the affected area or trying alternative approaches like massage, chiropractic care or acupuncture.

It can take some trial and error to develop a successful nonsurgical treatment plan to manage spinal arthritis symptoms. For this reason, patients are often advised to give conservative approaches a few weeks or months to work, making necessary adjustments with their doctor’s guidance along the way. If you have fully explored these treatments without much success, surgery might be recommended, particularly in cases where the pain and other symptoms are preventing you from participating in daily activities.

What types of arthritis of the spine surgery are there?

The kind of arthritis of the spine surgery that is best suited for a patient will depend on a number of factors, including the specific cause of symptoms and a patient’s medical history. For example, one of the main causes of osteoarthritis complications is the development of bone spurs in the joints as the body responds to bone-on-bone contact that results from a loss of joint cartilage. These growths can place pressure on nearby nerve roots and cause radiating symptoms, so some surgical approaches involve removing all or part of the bone spur to take pressure off the affected nerve.

What should patients know before undergoing surgery?

For years, the only kinds of surgery that could be used to directly address the symptoms associated with this condition involved a large incision and a lengthy recovery time, but arthritis of the spine surgery isn’t solely limited to this traditional open spine approach. Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative with minimally invasive spine surgery. Our approaches use muscle-sparing techniques that allow for an outpatient procedure with a shorter recovery time^ and a reduced risk of complication.

To learn more about our minimally invasive outpatient surgery and to find out if you’re a potential candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for your no-cost MRI review.*