Degenerative arthritis of the spine overview

Degenerative arthritis of the spine, which is also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, is a condition that develops as a result of years of spinal wear. Adjacent vertebrae in the spine are connected by structures called facet joints, which function as a crucial component of the spine that allows for the full range of motion that we require from our neck and back. However, these joints are also under great pressure because of how often they’re used, making them prone to deterioration, especially in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine).

With time, the cartilage that lines these joints and allows the bones to glide against one another naturally wears away, eventually leading to bone-on-bone friction. When this occurs, the joints become stiff, inflamed and painful, and bone spurs can develop. These changes are collectively known as degenerative arthritis of the spine. To learn about the conservative and surgical treatment options available for this degenerative condition, read the following article.

Conservative treatment options for degenerative arthritis of the spine

Typically, when a person is diagnosed with degenerative arthritis of the spine, treatment is first attempted conservatively with a series of nonsurgical methods. This process usually requires a certain degree of give-and-take and a willingness from the patient to work with their doctor in order to identify the combination of treatments that will work best in the long term. It’s important to understand that the goal of treatment isn’t to cure arthritis in a traditional sense. Instead, the top priority is to reduce pain and help maintain or improve flexibility and mobility.

While there is a set treatment regimen that will work for every patient, here are several examples of arthritis of the spine treatment methods that may be among the first tried by a patient:

  • Low-impact exercises like walking or swimming
  • Stretching techniques including yoga or Pilates
  • The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • The application of hot or cold compresses
  • Complementary or alternative methods like deep tissue massage or acupuncture

What about surgery for degenerative arthritis of the spine?

In many cases, conservative treatment can be highly effective. However, for some patients who do not experience adequate relief after several weeks or months, surgery may be recommended to help alleviate joint pain, nerve compression and spinal instability. Surgery can be attempted many different ways so the patient should research all available options prior to making a decision.

At Laser Spine Institute, for example, we offer minimally invasive procedures that offer many advantages compared to traditional open spine surgery, such as a shorter recovery period and a lower risk of complication.^ To learn more and to find out if you might be a candidate for one of the procedures performed at our state-of-the-art facilities, reach out to us and ask for a free MRI review.*

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain, earning us a patient satisfaction score of 98.^ Contact our dedicated team today with any questions or concerns you may have about our outpatient procedures. We can help you move to the next step on your journey to wellness.