The spine is one of the parts of the body most commonly affected by arthritis, a progressive condition that contributes to inflammation and joint, bone, and soft tissue damage. You can’t reverse damage already caused by spinal arthritis (osteoarthritis), but what you can do is take some steps, such as the ones discussed below, to slow the progression of this condition. If you have spinal arthritis, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a Los Angeles spine surgeon, to determine how far the condition has progressed and what areas of your backbone are affected.
The simplest thing you can do to prevent or slow the progression of spinal arthritis is keep moving. Exercise keeps spine-supporting muscle groups strong while also easing the burden on the spine’s joints, discs, and vertebrae. Aim for about 30–45 minutes of moderate-level exercise about 3–5 days per week. Fortunately, there are many options for spine-friendly exercise, some of which include:
• Walking at a pace that’s comfortable for you
• Swimming and other water-based activities
• Doing low-impact aerobics
• Cycling on pavement or a stationary bike
Poor eating habits can increase inflammation around the spinal joints and slow down circulation, which is what helps with the delivery of essential nutrients to the spine’s tissues. Opt for a diet that includes nutrient-rich foods along with ones that naturally minimize inflammation. Tasty options include:
• Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
• Salmon, herring, and other fatty fish
• Avocados and grapes
• Tomatoes and peppers
• Green tea
• Dark chocolate
Excessive alcohol consumption impedes circulation, while tobacco accelerates the breakdown of healthy spinal tissue. Prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis by minimizing alcohol consumption and not smoking or using tobacco products.
On a related note, red wine contains a compound called resveratrol that has well-documented anti-inflammatory effects. However, there aren’t enough proven arthritis-related health benefits associated with alcohol to recommend you start drinking if you don’t already occasionally enjoy beverages of this nature.
Extra weight places added pressure on the spine and its joints and discs. This extra pressure can accelerate wear and tear and speed up the progression of spinal arthritis. Even shedding a few excess pounds can ease stress on your spine and its supporting parts. Your doctor can give you an idea of what your normal weight range should be based on factors such as your age, sex, and height.
Posture is one of those things most people don’t always pay attention to, and it can become a potential problem if you’re slouching as you sit, leaning to one side or another as you stand, sleeping in positions that throw off your spine’s natural alignment, or not being mindful of where you’re placing stress on your body.
Poor posture can also affect spinal joints and bones already affected by osteoarthritis. Do your spine a favor by getting into the habit of doing regular posture checks throughout your day. Further correct your posture by:
• Keeping your head and neck aligned with your shoulders
• Using lumbar/neck supporting cushions while in a car
• Not excessively leaning forward when using your various devices
• Using ergonomically designed chairs and/or workstations
In addition to the tips discussed above, you may benefit from anti-inflammatory medication and alternative treatment options such as chiropractic care.
If you have spinal arthritis or another condition causing pain in your neck or back, reach out to The Spine Institute. We specialize in fusion and non-fusion procedures such as XLIF surgery, spinal decompression, and coflex back surgery. Los Angeles patients should call 310-828-7757 today for an in-person consultation.