Arthritis of the spine diagnosis and treatment

Receiving an arthritis of the spine diagnosis might be a little scary, but there are treatment methods available that can help you find relief for the often painful symptoms of this fairly common condition. The most prevalent form of arthritis – osteoarthritis – involves the degeneration of the cartilage and bone in weight-bearing joints, such as the facet joints in the spine. This degeneration most often occurs in people over the age of 45 or 50 because the cartilage that helps your joints move easily becomes worn down through years of activity. When the cartilage deteriorates to the point that bones – such as those in the facet joints – rub against one another, osteoarthritis can develop.

Osteoarthritis of the spine diagnosis

For your physician to make an arthritis of the spine diagnosis, he or she will need to go through a complex process to eliminate the possibility that your pain and discomfort are the result of one of the many other degenerative neck and back conditions that produce similar symptoms. The first step will be for your physician to review your medical history and discuss the activities that most often cause symptoms to appear.

Next, you will likely undergo a spinal examination to test your flexibility and identify the areas where you are experiencing symptoms. Finally, your physician might order diagnostic testing, such as X-rays, an MRI or a CT scan, to help pinpoint the source of your discomfort.

Osteoarthritis of the spine treatment

Once it has been confirmed that you are suffering from arthritis of the spine, a treatment plan that involves a combination of options will need to be developed. To try to manage your symptoms, your physician will likely suggest several conservative, nonsurgical treatments first, including:

  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Strengthening exercises to reduce the strain on the spine
  • Rest
  • Epidural or facet joint injections

You may also want to consider alternative treatments, which have helped some patients find relief though the supporting research is minimal. These include chiropractic care, yoga, biofeedback, acupuncture and acupressure.

If you aren’t able to find relief from your arthritis of the spine symptoms after attempting conservative and alternative treatment methods, you may want to consider one of the minimally invasive surgeries available at Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient procedures a performed using a less than 1-inch incision, sparing the muscles from being cut or torn and producing a shorter recovery time ^ compared to open spine surgery. Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for our procedures.