Surgical treatments for spinal arthritis

The decision to undergo spinal arthritis surgery may seem like an easy choice when the severely debilitating symptoms of spinal arthritis are affecting your quality of life. However, surgery is a major decision and can impact a person’s physical, mental and financial wellbeing. It is important to gather as much information as possible before deciding that spinal arthritis surgery is the right treatment option for you.

Election for surgery should be preceded by extensive self-education concerning the effects of surgery and all of the surgical options available to treat the condition.

What is spinal arthritis?

Spinal arthritis is characterized by the inflammation and breakdown of the spinal facet joints. Spinal arthritis may manifest as either osteoarthritis (the most common form, defined by degradation of spinal cartilage through activity or trauma) or spinal rheumatoid arthritis (less common but more debilitating, defined by the body’s attack on its own joints).

A healthy joint should move fluidly and seamlessly. As inflammation and the resulting degeneration destroy a joint, movement is hampered by roughened or disintegrated skeletal cartilage. Pain and/or a grinding sensation is common as bare bones rub against one another. If you are one of the millions of people living with this condition, this painful feeling is likely already a reality.

What types of surgery can treat spinal arthritis?

If your physician has diagnosed you with spinal arthritis and recommended surgery as an option to relieve pain, some common procedures that may be suggested include:

  • Laminectomy. This procedure includes the removal of the lamina (the bony roof of the vertebral arch) and the removal of the bone spurs (osteophytes) causing nerve compression.
  • Spinal fusion. This procedure involves joining two or more vertebrae using a bone graft and hardware in order to relieve pain. It’s also used to bolster the spine when bone has been removed in procedures like a laminectomy or an entire spinal disc has been removed during a discectomy.
  • Osteotomy. This procedure involves cutting away diseased or abnormal bone.
  • Osteoplasty. This procedure also cuts away diseased or abnormal bone. Osteoplasty of the extremities is common, for example, in knee replacements. Osteoplasty of facet joints has not yet been developed.
  • Foraminectomy. This procedure enlarges neural foramina by removing pieces of bone or other tissue that is blocking the nerve passageway.

Generally, the above options for spinal arthritis surgery are traditional open back surgeries that involve muscle disruption and often require long rehabilitation periods. If you feel that these may not be the right options for you, there are alternatives. Thanks to advancements in spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that can address some causes of spinal arthritis symptoms.

These outpatient procedures can help you find relief from your spinal arthritis pain without the risks and lengthy recovery associated with traditional open back surgery.^ For example, our minimally invasive stabilization surgery uses a smaller incision and muscle-sparing techniques compared to traditional open spinal fusions. Contact us us today to receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our procedures.