What can happen if arthritis of the spine goes untreated?

There are several treatment options for arthritis of the spine. The symptoms of this condition can vary widely, making every individual’s experience unique. Even so, two aspects can be described with a high level of certainty. First, the resulting spinal degeneration cannot be reversed, and second, its effects can be expected to progress with time.

With that said, the decision on whether or not to seek treatment is entirely up to you. Because there is currently no cure for this age-related condition, its treatment has two main goals: to slow the progression of the resulting spinal degeneration and to relieve any associated discomfort. Toward that end, some people benefit significantly from physical therapy, facet joint injections, medial branch blocks, ultrasound therapy and medications. Surgery is generally considered only as a last resort for very severe or debilitating symptoms.

If you elect to forgo spinal arthritis treatment

You may decide that you don’t need treatment for arthritis of the spine — now or ever. Instead, you might choose to adopt some healthy lifestyle practices that can help you manage and live with your spinal arthritis. Here are a few good strategies to consider:

  • Learn and practice good posture while sitting, standing and walking
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Pace yourself and take regular breaks from physical activity
  • Ask your physician or physical therapist to recommend some targeted exercises and show you how to perform them correctly
  • Use a heating pad or ice pack as needed for painful episodes
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) if approved by your physician
  • Consult with a chiropractor or licensed massage therapist
  • Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Quit smoking (if applicable)

If you decide to pursue spinal arthritis surgery

In the event that your symptoms progress to the point that they are significantly diminishing your quality of life, you might start thinking about spine surgery. If you’ve reached this point but have concerns about the risks of traditional open spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our caring team can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.