Non-surgical Treatment of Spondylosis (Spinal Osteoarthritis)

Written by Praveen V. Mummaneni, MD

Spondylosis is osteoarthritis of the spine. The symptoms may vary from mild and episodic to aggressive and painfully chronic. Spondylosis affects the spine's joints; the facet joints in the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back), and/or lumbar (low back) spine. Fortunately, most people with spinal osteoarthritis do not need surgery. Many of the common nonoperative treatments are featured below.

Seldom is Surgery Needed
Very few patients with spondylosis require surgery. When surgery is necessary, seldom is it an emergency. Non-operative therapy is tried first. The physician may determine that combining two or more therapies may benefit the patient to quickly resolve their symptoms. In most cases, non-surgical treatments work.

However, some patients suffer neurologic deficit; such as weakness, incontinence, or develop spinal instability. The cause of severe symptoms often determines the type of surgery needed. For example, it may be necessary to surgically remove bone spurs or disc tissue compressing spinal nerves or causing spinal cord compression. Depending on the extent of the surgery, spinal fusion to stabilize the spine may be necessary. Fortunately, newer minimally invasive spine surgical techniques greatly benefit patients. Minimally invasive spine surgery enables patients to return to normal activities sooner.

Patients with chronic back pain are urged to seek the advice of a spine specialist. The all-important first step to relieve back and neck pain is to obtain a proper diagnosis. Back pain can be caused by many problems including spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, spondylolisthesis, osteoporosis, compression fractures, and bone tumors. The in-depth and specialized training spine physicians receive equips them to treat a variety of disorders causing back and neck pain.

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Alternative Treatments for Spondylosis