Spondylitis and the benefits of alternative treatments

Arthritis and degeneration that affects the facet joints (or joints of the spine) is called spondylitis. Facet joints are located in pairs on the top and bottom of vertebrae, connecting vertebrae in the neck and back in a hinge-like manner that allows the spine to bend, move and twist. When these joints become arthritic, patients may experience pain, loss of motion, stiffness and bone spur growth. In severe cases of spondylitis, the spinal bones may fuse together, allowing for even reduced range of motion and greater pain.

Do alternative treatments help?

Due to the level of pain and discomfort often associated with spondylitis, alternative treatments (those found outside of conventional medicine) are sought by many patients. These treatments are often used in conjunction with the conventional forms of medicine prescribed by a physician. Some of the most popular alternative treatments include:

  • Stretching — Gentle stretches can improve flexibility of the neck and back over time, which may relieve some of the pressure placed on spinal nerves.
  • Ultrasound — Performed by a physical or occupational therapist, ultrasound therapy utilizes sound waves to reduce pain in the joints and muscles. Connective tissues are said to absorb the high-energy sound waves, which may promote healing by targeting the cellular level.
  • Hot/Cold Therapy — Applying hot and/or cold compresses to the neck and back can help to ease pain, soreness and swelling associated with spondylitis. Alternative treatments utilizing hot and cold therapy can promote healing, reduce inflammation and ease tension in the joints and muscles.
  • Massage — Temporary relief may be provided by gentle massage. This alternative therapy can improve flexibility by loosening tense muscles and is believed to even promote healing by some experts.

Other Alternatives Are Available

If you’ve been diagnosed with spondylitis, consider some of the alternative treatments listed above. Few patients experience permanent relief through these methods, but many receive temporary relief from the painful symptoms of spondylitis. Alternative treatments should always be discussed with your primary care physician or back specialist to ensure the best course of treatment for your particular symptoms.