Self Care and Exercise to Treat Spinal Osteoarthritis


Spinal osteoarthritis comes along with unbearable back pain, making your daily activities become extremely difficult and discomfort. Thus, knowing how to take care of yourself properly is an important step in the road to manage osteoarthritis in the spine. Here is what you need.

Proper rest

When you kick start an exercise plan, a little discomfort is inevitable. However, when moderate to serious back pain arises and persists, you may need some rest. That pain is the signal telling your spine, surrounding muscles, and other soft tissues are under pressure. How long you rest depends on how much the pain is. An extreme pain requires 1 to 2 days of rest.

Heat and cold therapy

Those two treatments are temporary and can not alleviate the root of your back pain nor improve your joint function; however, a warm pad applied to the affected areas can ease the stiffness, allowing you to make movements easier. Meanwhile, cold compresses can reduce the swelling and offer you quicker pain relief effect. (the best time to practice this therapy is 15 or 20 minutes after activity)

Weight loss and physical therapy

The more weight you put on, the greater pressure your spine’s facet joints have to bear. It is known that obese people are at 5 times higher risk of developing osteoarthritis in the lumbar spine. What you really need is a balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight. If needed, you should shed some extra fat.

In treatments for spinal osteoarthritis, back strengthening and stretching is on the top priority. When your back and neck muscles are strong and flexible, they can at the same time support the spine and ease the stress that the vertebral discs and facet joints have to experience. Therefore, you can be safe from further damage and suffering.

An appointment with a physical therapist is highly recommended as he can design a suitable exercise program for you. A good program should include:

Neck and back strengthening exercises. These exercises will help you increase your muscle strength to support the affected joints. During the activities, you can make use of devices like exercise bands to add resistance.

Low-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises help you control your weight while maintaining healthy lungs and circulation systems. You can try walking, stationary cycling, and water exercises like swimming.

Range of motion exercises. These activities are to keep the back joints limber, reduce stiffness and maintain normal motion of the joints. You can try gentle stretches sideways, forward, and backward. Yoga is also a good idea to increase the body’s flexibility.

What exercises to avoid when you have osteoarthritis?

There are many activities that you should stay away from once you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis. They include:

  • Heavy lifting. Carrying heavy bag or backpack are also on the no-no list.
  • Deep waist bending or twisting
  • Headstand positions
  • Sudden and strong movements of the neck or back

What are available supportive devices?

There are certain supportive devices that can help you live easier with your conditions, including:

  • Back brace: to give extra support to your lower back
  • Supportive mattress and pillow: to take some pressure off your spine while you’re sleeping
  • Walker or cane: to support your walking

What to do if the pain gets overwhelming and interferes with your daily activities?

Those self-care steps are just a part of your plan to live with the condition. To manage the pain, you would need other methods. The most effective one is to use medications, especially those from NSAIDs group.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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