Alternative Treatments for Spondylosis

Written by Jason M. Highsmith, MD

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are a treatment option for spondylosis (also known as spinal arthritis or spinal osteoarthritis). Complementary and alternative treatments are just what the name suggests: They either complement (used in conjunction with) or are an alternative to traditional "Western" medicine. CAM is a catch-all acronymn for practices and therapies that aren't considered part of conventional medicine right now.

If you've been diagnosed with spondylosis, you may want to talk with your doctor about alternative ways to manage your symptoms. Several are explained here.

Acupuncture/Acupressure: Developed in China, acupuncture uses very fine needles—and no medication—to treat your pain. Practitioners believe that you have an energy force called your Chi. (It can also be spelled Qi, but both forms are pronounced "chee.") When this force is blocked, you can develop physical illness, such as back pain. Therefore, you need to free up your body's Chi channels, which practitioners call your meridians. Acupuncture works to restore a healthy, energetic flow of Chi.

Acupuncture needles are almost as thin as strands of hair. Based on your symptoms and exact diagnosis, a practitioner will insert the needles; you'll most likely have multiple needles inserted during one session. The practitioner will target precise points in your body's meridians, and the needles will be left in for 20 to 40 minutes. It's been suggested that acupuncture needles cause your body to release certain neurochemicals, such as endorphins or serotonin, and they help in the healing process.

Acupressure works like acupuncture in that it focuses on those meridians. However, instead of needles, the practitioner uses his/her thumbs, fingers, and elbows.

Herbal Remedies/Supplements: Before trying any herbal remedies or supplements, make sure you do your research and talk to your doctor. Even though herbs are natural, there may still be side effects that you're unaware of—an herbal remedy could interfere with a prescribed medicine you're taking, for example. Some herbal remedies you may want to consider for spondylosis are:

Massage: Getting a massage is a way to relax your muscles, as well as calm your mind. A good massage therapist can work out tight muscles and relieve muscle spasms. In spondylosis, the muscles surrounding the spine often become very tense, adding to your pain. A massage should help release that muscle inflammation and pain.

Yoga/Pilates: Both these forms of exercise work on the mind-body connection to help you focus on your breathing while doing controlled movements. They can help relax your body as you strengthen your core and spinal muscles. However, yoga and/Pilates may not be the right exercise for you, so please talk to your doctor before beginning a program.

Continue Reading

Drugs, Medications, and Injections for Spondylosis