Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition in which the cartilage of a joint has worn down, causing pain, stiffness, and the formation of “bone spurs.” Bone spurs in the spine can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Spinal OA is usually a result of age-related changes, though can also be accelerated as a result of traumatic injury or certain genetic conditions.
OA of the spine causes pain and stiffness, sometimes grinding and popping. It can also put pressure on the nerves that can cause numbness and tingling, painful sensations, and weakness. It can make daily activities including getting out of bed, dressing and bathing, getting up from a chair, or household chores difficult to perform.
What to expect at therapy
OA is best treated with exercises to keep the spine flexible and supported and strong. A therapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation of the spine including your range of motion, flexibility, strength, sensation, and posture. The therapist will discuss your goals and aim to get you pain relief for day to day activities and back to the activities you’re missing such as recreation or work. Treatments may include the use of therapeutic modalities, hands-on manual therapy techniques, posture education, therapeutic exercise, and instruction in safe lifting.