Osteoarthritis: Can Back Surgery Help?

For many adults over sixty, back pain is a common reason they seek medical attention. Of those with back pain, many will end up facing back surgery before considering other effective and less invasive methods.

A common cause of back pain in adults over sixty is a result of spinal osteoarthritis. Surgery is mostly ineffective in fixing arthritis, so why not consider non-invasive methods that may have the same or better outcomes than surgery?

Firstly, let’s go over what spinal osteoarthritis is: it is a breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the neck and lower back. Symptoms may include “lower back pain and stiffness that is most pronounced in the morning and in the evening.” This can put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal column which causes pain and weakness in the arms and/or legs. Back surgery cannot completely cure osteoarthritis. What it can do is reduce some of the pain and improve the person’s mobility, however, these same results can be accomplished with other effective and non-invasive treatments.

Treatment of spinal osteoarthritis (without the need for surgery) is aimed at relieving the symptoms of pain and increasing a person’s ability to function. Initially, the focus might be on weight loss as arthritis can be a result of being overweight. Weight loss and weight management accompanied by exercise are specific for osteoarthritis sufferers, including swimming, walking and water aerobics. These exercises result in increased flexibility, improved blood flow, and strengthening of the heart, making it easier to conduct daily tasks that become more difficult when you have osteoarthritis. There are also non-drug treatments available such as massages, acupuncture and hot/cold therapy.

In short, there are many non-invasive, effective treatments and management options for spinal osteoarthritis; surgery is not always necessary. It is always best to consider all the options available including the positive and negative side effects of each to decide – with the help of a medical professional – the best way to treat spinal osteoarthritis.


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Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash

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