Inflammation in facet joints in spine or in the sacroiliac joints between spine and pelvis, is termed as spinal arthritis which may occur due to wear and tear, autoimmune disorders, infection, age, obesity or conditions like diabetes, tuberculosis or irritable bowel syndrome. Spinal arthritis could be of types like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis.
Treatment for spinal arthritis depends on severity of the disorder, the part affected, nature of symptoms, other medical issues, age, occupation, lifestyle of patients and their routine activities. Integrative medical treatments which comprise physical therapy, diet, manipulation, medications, massage, acupuncture and supplements, injection therapy and exercises are attempted before considering surgery as a last resort.
Physical therapy for spinal arthritis involves low impact activities that strengthen spine, hip and abdomen so that patients could stand, walk and balance effortlessly. Based on earlier evaluation certain stretching exercises for spine, arms and legs are recommended. Such stretching exercises minimise progression of the disorder.
Symptom management is a part of the physical therapy where patients could be more active without aggravating symptoms. Physical therapy also includes training to perform routine activities like getting in and getting out of bed and chair.
Vegetables and fruits including broccoli, bell pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, citrus fruits and strawberries which are rich in vitamin C reduce risks of osteoarthritis while dairy products and fish which have ample vitamin D content protect cartilage. Calcium found in milk, broccoli, salmon and kale strengthen the bones.
However to minimize risks of spinal arthritis, one must abstain from processed food with added sugar, red meat, gluten containing food, alcohol, vegetable oil, food with high salt content and must stay away from smoking.
Massage reduces pain, muscle spasms and tension and improves blood circulation in spinal arthritis patients. Swedish massage is done for long time and reduces stiffness in muscle joints and thereby reduces anxiety and enhances blood circulation. Deep tissue massage is done for both superficial and deeper layers of muscles and tissues which might not suit for few specific cases of arthritis.
Hot stone massage releases tension and promotes relaxation while cold stones treat sore muscles affected due to exercise related injuries and swelling. Myofascial release relieves pain by working on fascia, connective tissues around muscles, blood vessels and nerves and no oil, lotion or stones are used for this massage. Other massages to treat spinal arthritis include rolfing, shiatsu and trigger point massage.
Tai chi which was a fighting technique was transformed to gentle continuously moving stretches which minimum stress on joints and enhances balance.
While heat therapy relieves muscle and joint stiffness, cold therapy reduces inflammation and pain.
Relaxing one’s self with meditation and deep breathing puts the body into rest state and counters the body’s stress response. Meditation also reduces anxiety and improves quality of life. Meditation trainers could recommend suitable meditation form that addresses to spinal arthritis issues.
On a concluding note, patients can choose from one of the natural treatments for spinal arthritis before resorting to surgery which is the last option.