Exercise and Self-Care for Spinal Osteoarthritis

Exercise and Self-Care for Spinal Osteoarthritis

Spinal osteoarthritis – or spondylosis – is associated with aging and often affects the spine’s vertebrae and discs. Sometimes called degenerative disc disease, spondylosis does not always have symptoms, but is a common cause of spinal pain and problems. 

Spondylosis occurs as the body ages and the discs that cushion the bones of the spine become stiff and break down. The bones can also grow bone spurs, which may push against a nerve root or the spinal cord and cause numbness, tingling, weakness, or a shooting pain in the buttocks and leg. 

Back pain and numbness can be difficult to live with, but with proper self-care and exercises, you can start feeling better before you know it.

How Do You Treat Arthritis of the Spine Naturally?

Self-care and exercises are considered safe for sufferers of spondylosis; however, it’s always wise to check with your chiropractor first. They can provide a complete diagnosis and help you understand your unique situation as well as offering advice on which home treatments are best for you. 


When severe pain hits, curling up in a fetal position on a firm mattress can help relieve the pain while taking pressure off of the facet joints. You can expect minor discomfort in the morning or after sitting for long periods, but severe pain is a signal that the spine and surrounding muscles need a break. 

Warm or Cold Compress

Use a heating pad to loosen joints before activity, making exercise easier on the back. After any activity, you can ice your back for 15 to 20 minutes to decrease swelling and reduce back pain. 


While it may feel natural to continuously rest a sore back, you could benefit from regular exercise, which strengthens the muscles that support the spine. Stretching prior to a workout is important.

Try exercises such as:

  • Neck and back exercises: A workout that includes neck and back exercises helps build strength, which reduces the stress put on the joints. Exercise bands can add resistance, helping to increase the level of difficulty and improving the workout.
  • Low-impact aerobic exercises: Aerobic exercises help control weight as well as keeping the lungs, heart, and circulatory system healthy. Try exercises that don’t put pressure on the spine, like water therapy, walking, or stationary cycling.
  • Flexibility exercises: Flexibility exercises stretch the range of motion, relieving stiffness and maintaining flexibility in the back muscles. Consider trying gentle stretches as well as yoga to help with range of motion. 

Weight Loss

Exercise will help with weight loss, which is necessary to relieve extra pressure on the spine’s facet joints. Osteoarthritis in the lumbar region is five times more likely to occur in people who are obese. A healthy diet and exercise will help with weight loss to reduce pain. 

Altered Activities

Certain activities can cause your back to hurt and making adjustments to those activities is recommended. For instance:

  • Heavy lifting, including purses and backpacks, can put strain on the neck and back muscles. Instead, use a backpack with wheels.
  • Avoid deep bending or twisting at the waist, which can aggravate the back.
  • Sitting for long periods should be avoided. Instead, get up and move around regularly to stretch your back muscles. 
  • Any movement that puts strain on the neck or back should be done slowly and with care to prevent further injury or pain.

Supportive Devices

You may find relief in using supportive devices which assist in stabilizing the back to reduce pain. For instance:

  • A medium-firm, supportive mattress can take pressure off the spine while sleeping.
  • A supportive pillow may help with symptoms of cervical spine osteoarthritis.
  • If conditions have deteriorated to affect standing and walking, a cane or walker may be helpful.

Coping Techniques

Relaxing through coping techniques is always helpful for back pain. Try meditation, visual imagery, or massage for a positive impact on managing pain. 

What is the Best Treatment for Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

Chiropractic manipulation is often considered one of the best treatments for spondylosis, because it is an all-natural, non-invasive process that provides excellent relief from pain, numbness, and other symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis. 

Chiropractic care focuses on your individual circumstances, so your treatment plan may not be the same as someone else with the same condition. However, in addition to targeted adjustments, you can expect exercise as an important part of the healing process. Activities like stretching and range-of-motion exercises can offer excellent results for patients with spondylosis. 

Since chiropractic treatment doesn’t involve medication, it can safely be used with other treatments. If you’re ready to find relief for your spinal osteoarthritis, schedule an appointment with us online or call 256-721-9696 today to learn how we can create your customized treatment plan.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.