Spinal osteoarthritis, involving the progressive deterioration of the cartilage in the spinal joints, affects a large number of individuals, resulting in symptoms such as discomfort, inflammation, and limited mobility. Although the condition is without a definitive cure, various therapeutic approaches can help you control the symptoms and enhance your quality of life.
At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, specializes in providing a range of treatments for back pain related to degenerative conditions like spinal arthritis.
Our team is committed to offering personalized care to help you manage your symptoms and maintain an active lifestyle. Knowing your treatment options can empower you to make the best decisions for your health.
While surgery might be considered for advanced cases of spinal arthritis, several nonsurgical treatments are worth exploring first when you’ve just been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Among these options, massage therapy offers relief by targeting the root of the pain.
It works by relaxing tense muscles surrounding the affected spinal joints and promoting better blood flow to the area. While massage therapy can offer welcome relief from discomfort, it should be part of a broader treatment plan developed in consultation with your provider.
Seamlessly integrating into this broader plan are lifestyle adjustments, which can have a considerable impact for those dealing with spinal arthritis. Weight loss, for instance, lightens the load on your spinal joints and can significantly reduce discomfort. Diet, too, plays a key role; consuming anti-inflammatory foods can help manage joint inflammation.
To complement these lifestyle changes, you can add low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling. These types of activities keep you moving without causing undue stress on your joints, and they have the added benefit of building muscle strength to provide better joint support.
Hot and cold therapy
As you build up your muscle strength, it's also important to manage acute pain, which is where hot and cold therapy comes into play.
Heat, whether from a hot bath or heating pad, can relax muscles and improve circulation, offering a temporary escape from pain. Cold therapy, often administered through ice packs, offers the opposite but equally useful effect of reducing inflammation and numbing the affected area.
Interspersing these therapies with periods of rest can be beneficial; however, it's essential to find a balance. Too much rest can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which could exacerbate your condition.
Lumbar epidural steroid injections
Steroid injections provide immediate, albeit temporary, relief pain associated with osteoarthritis affecting the lower back (lumbar spine). Your provider administers these injections directly into the epidural space around the spinal nerves.
The steroid medication serves to reduce inflammation, which in turn can alleviate pain and improve mobility. However, it's crucial to note that while the injections can offer temporary relief, they don’t address the underlying issue of the deteriorating cartilage.
Who should consider minimally invasive surgery
If you're struggling with chronic back pain due to osteoarthritis and conservative treatment options like medication, physical therapy, or injections haven’t provided significant relief, surgery might be an option for you.
As a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jones specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery. Unlike traditional open surgeries, minimally invasive procedures require smaller incisions, reducing the risk of infection and speeding up the recovery process.
At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, we conduct a thorough evaluation of your condition, including diagnostic tests like MRI or CT scans, to determine if minimally invasive spine surgery is appropriate for your specific case. Factors such as the severity of your arthritis and your overall health, age, and lifestyle are all considered in making this decision.
While a diagnosis of osteoarthritis may initially be disheartening, it's important to remember that you have options for managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life. You’re in capable hands when you choose The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas for your spine needs.
To set up a consultation with Dr. Jones, call us today.