Three common arthritis of the spine treatment options

Before exploring arthritis of the spine treatment options, it’s helpful to learn the basics of this condition. Also known as spinal osteoarthritis, arthritis of the spine affects the spinal joints where two vertebrae meet.

Arthritis of the spine is a common degenerative disease that occurs when the smooth cartilage that covers the joints between each set of vertebrae begins to deteriorate. Once the cartilage wears away completely, the unprotected joints rub together. Boney protrusions called bone spurs may also develop as a result of joint friction. Bone spurs can cause spinal nerve compression, in some cases.

Spinal osteoarthritis typically affects individuals older than 45. While symptoms vary from person to person, many people experience pain and tenderness around the spinal joints, stiffness, reduced mobility and uncomfortable grating sensations.

Conservative treatments for spinal osteoarthritis

There is no one ideal treatment for arthritis of the spine. Depending on the location and severity of the joint degeneration, the patient’s overall health and several other factors, a variety of treatment approaches may be taken. Many patients are able to find relief from osteoarthritis pain and dysfunction through conservative (nonsurgical) methods. Here are three commonly suggested treatments:

  1. Physical therapy – A strategic regimen of gentle exercises, physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, stabilize the vertebrae and increase range of motion.
  2. Medication – Discomfort from spinal osteoarthritis can sometimes be alleviated with pain relievers (acetaminophen), anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and even certain antidepressants (duloxetine).
  3. Injections – Injecting cortisone or hyaluronic acid into the affected spinal joint(s) can provide pain relief for certain patients.

Alternative treatments for spinal osteoarthritis

Many people with spinal osteoarthritis explore alternative treatments to help manage symptoms. While not recommended as a primary form of treatment, activities like yoga and tai chi have been shown to reduce some osteoarthritis pain and stiffness. Another promising therapy is acupuncture, which may help relieve arthritis pain by stimulating the nerves, muscles and connective tissues. Chiropractic care is also sometimes used to restore mobility through calculated manual manipulations of the spine.

Surgery for spinal osteoarthritis

Still, some spinal osteoarthritis patients do not respond to any alternative or conservative treatments. In such cases, surgery may be suggested to decompress irritated nerves or stabilize the vertebrae. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive osteoarthritis procedures that are done on an outpatient basis. An alternative to traditional open spine surgeries, our procedures are performed through a less-than 1-inch incision, minimizing scarring and discomfort^ following surgery.

To learn about minimally invasive, outpatient surgery for spinal osteoarthritis at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today. We can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you’re a candidate.