Osteoarthritis or spinal arthritis can be a debilitating disease that affects every facet of life. Regular exercise and Physical therapy is the most effective, non-drug treatment to reduce pain and increase mobility in those suffering spinal arthritis. Treatment focuses on strengthening the muscles around the arthritic joint; this increases mobility, decreases joint stiffness and reduces pain by supporting the arthritic joint. Specific exercises must be done correctly to avoid stress to the arthritic joint and to avoid injury.
Spinal arthritis is accompanied by neck and back pain. This has been shown to limit extensor muscle function and exercises or physical therapy should focus on strengthening the neck and core muscles. Regular exercise has benefits in addition to pain prevention and relief. Mobility is increased allowing the patient to participate in more activities. People experience increased endurance, energy, better attitude, and are able to better maintain a healthy weight, sleep cycle and healthy blood circulation levels. Patients also experience a dramatic improvement with depression. When you have a condition like spinal arthritis, it is important to have a professional trainer or better yet, a physical therapist, teach you the correct exercises and routines that are specific to your condition. They can teach the proper method and technique for each exercise, so that you get the most benefit for your efforts. A professional will also decrease the chance of you sustaining an injury from improperly executing an exercise.
If you experience pain when performing exercises, your doctor or physical therapist may suggest that you take an anti-inflammatory or pain medication an hour before exercising. Heat can be applied to a particular area prior to exercise to alleviate some stiffness and pain before exercising. Cold packs on the painful area can be applied after exercise to decrease pain and swelling. It is important to find a way to perform the specific exercises your therapist has shown you to do and do them the required amount of time, to achieve satisfactory results. Your therapist may be able to modify a particular exercise or exchange it for another if you still find the exercise too difficult.
Neck and back exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold the spine in the proper position will increase mobility and decrease pain. It is important to strengthen the abdominal muscles or core muscles. These muscles are necessary in maintaining good posture and proper function of the spine. Resistance devices can be something inexpensive like exercise bands or more expensive like resistance and exercise machines. A physical therapist can teach you exercises and stretches that can be performed at home using things around the house as props.
Low impact aerobic exercises, improve circulation and breathing, promote energy and increase endurance. Exercises like walking and stationary bikes provide great aerobic exercise for people with spinal arthritis. Some people prefer water aerobics or swimming, since it takes even more pressure off the joints and many people find the water relaxing which in turn reduces stress, tension and pain.
Range of motion exercises keeps the spine and joints limber. Relieving stiffness and maintaining joint mobility in the spine decreases pain and prevents injury. These exercises involve bending and stretching the spine. It also involves moving the arm and leg joints in relation to the spine.