No More Pain: Top 3 Ways To Alleviate Arthritis Of The Spine
Arthritis pain is no joke – especially when it comes to arthritis of the spine. It can prevent you from walking, training, or simply living your life comfortably.
But it’s time that you took control of your arthritis pain. And there are things you can do to supplement traditional treatment with a spinal specialist.
Keep reading for the 3 best ways to alleviate pain from arthritis of the spine.
Arthritis of the Spine – The Basics
Before we review potential pain relief solutions, let’s review the cause and symptoms of spinal arthritis. Arthritis or osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis) affects your joints. Joints connect two or more bones.
When your joints are damaged or worn over time the cartilage that protects them breaks down. Without the cartilage to protect the joints, bones may grind against each other. This condition is called osteoarthritis and it can happen to joints all over the body, including the spine.
Spinal arthritis, or cervical spondylosis, causes symptoms in the neck and back. It causes stiffness, pain, and sometimes limited mobility. Typically, arthritis pain is worse in the morning and gets better throughout the day.
Arthritis is most common in older adults or athletes. Athletes that train at a high level put their body through a lot and sometimes the cartilage can’t support their training regimen over years and years of work.
But there’s good news! You can use the tips below to alleviate pain from arthritis.
1. Ice and Heat
If you’ve visited a primary care doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, or spine specialist they probably suggested that you use ice and heat to alleviate symptoms of spinal arthritis. But did you take their advice?
Many patients fail to adhere to a strict ice and heat regimen even though it’s one of the most effective remedies.
If you have swelling or inflammation in your back, ice can reduce the swelling while reducing the pain. You can apply an ice pack for up to 15 minutes two times a day.
Some people prefer using heat for arthritis pain. Heat can warm up the joints and relieve stiffness associated with arthritis pain. You can use a heating pack for up to 15 minutes two times a day. For chronic pain, heat provides comfort and may increase mobility temporarily.
You can use heat, ice, or a combination of the two based on your symptoms and personal preference. Always consult with your doctor or another medical professional before starting any treatment for your arthritis pain.
While it might be tempting to reduce or stop exercising when you notice arthritis pain, it’s recommended that you don’t. Continuing to exercise can reduce stiffness and pain.
But be careful which exercises you choose. Even for athletes, intense physical exercise with heavy impact could make pain or inflammation worse. Here are a few types of exercise you should try if you have arthritis of the spine.
Always check with your doctor or a medical professional before starting a new exercise routine.
Stretching is a safe and effective way to exercise if you have arthritis. It helps you improve the mobility of your joints even if they are damaged or the surrounding area is inflamed.
Try light lower body and upper body stretching at least once a day. Some people prefer to stretch in the morning because stiffness is often worst at that time.
Strength training can improve muscular endurance and joint health. You can use weights, bands, machines, or bodyweight exercises as part of your strength training routine.
Try to incorporate strength exercises from all body parts, not just the back and neck. Having strong shoulder, core, and glute muscles is a good way to support the spine and associated joints.
You can try strength training for 2 days a week and then gradually build up (if recommended by your doctor). For athletes, strength training programs may be more intense and increase in difficulty at a faster rate. Regardless of your age or athletic status, be patient and cautious when you start a new strength training routine.
During cardio activities, your heart rate is increased and your breathing may become labored. This type of exercise is good for your heart health and weight loss or weight maintenance.
Try to engage in cardio activities for about 20 minutes a day, or two and a half hours a week. Activities like jogging, biking, swimming, and elliptical are examples of cardio. Talk to your doctor about which of these cardio activities is best for you.
3. Maintain Healthy Weight and Posture
Carrying excess weight can stress your joints unnecessarily. If you are overweight and experiencing arthritis pain, weight loss can make symptoms better. It can alleviate the amount of stress placed on joints as you stand or move.
Part of achieving a healthy weight or maintaining a healthy weight is a balanced diet and exercise. Talk to your doctor or a nutrition specialist for more information about proper diet.
Another way you can alleviate spinal arthritis pain is to improve your posture. When you slouch or sit for long periods of time you may be putting more stress on your spine and lower back. Try to maintain a neutral spinal position while sitting and standing.
If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try to take frequent breaks to stand up and walk around. These breaks can prevent the joints from stiffening further. Also, make sure your desk or computer is set up at eye level so that your neck is in a comfortable, neutral position.
Small changes to diet and posture can make a huge difference in pain relief – give it a try!
Move, Play, Live Comfortably
It’s time to start living with less arthritis pain. And while you may not be able to completely cure arthritis of the spine, you can improve the symptoms starting with some of the suggestions above.
Committing to healthy exercise habits, diet, and an ice and heat regimen can make a world of difference in your ability to move without joint pain.
If you’re ready to start your recovery journey with a spinal specialist, contact us today – we are here to help!