Arthritis of the spine: frequently asked questions

If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine, you likely have a number of questions about the condition and how to treat it. Below, you’ll find answers for some of the most frequently asked questions our doctors receive at Laser Spine Institute.

Q. What is arthritis of the spine?

A. Arthritis of the spine, also known as spinal osteoarthritis, is a common condition in which the protective cartilage in the spine’s joints wears down over time and causes inflammation of the joints. Cartilage allows the bones within the joints to glide over each other, and when it’s degraded, the bones can begin to grind together.

Q. What causes it?

A. Arthritis of the spine is typically caused by age-related degeneration. For some patients, additional risk factors come into play, including:

  • Spinal trauma
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Participating in repetitive movements

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. For some patients, arthritis of the spine causes little or no pain. For other patients, spinal arthritis can cause several uncomfortable symptoms, including pain in the neck or back, stiffness and reduced range of motion. As the condition progresses, a patient may experience pain in the arms or legs, muscle weakness and numbness or tingling.

Q. What are some treatment options?

A. Treatment options for spinal arthritis include pain medications, strengthening exercises, range of motion exercises, heat and ice therapy, massage therapy and acupuncture. Epidural steroid injections and facet joint injections can also be used for more significant relief. A large number of patients are able to manage their arthritis-related pain with a combination of these conservative methods.

Q. Will I need surgery?

A. In the event that your arthritis does not respond well to conservative treatments, surgery may be a consideration, especially if symptoms are severe or there is risk of permanent nerve damage. Traditional open spine surgery to treat arthritis typically involves a large incision, overnight hospitalization and a long recovery period, which is why patients are often anxious at the prospect of undergoing a procedure. Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures, offering our patients a lower complication rate and a shorter recovery period.^

If you have been recommend for surgery to treat arthritis of the spine, contact our caring and dedicated team today. We can help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.