How do you cope with multi-level degenerative osteoarthritis?

By: Contributors

Unrelenting back pain and stiffness due to multilevel degenerative osteoarthritis can greatly impact your quality of life. You may cope well with mild symptoms, but more progressive symptoms may require nonsurgical and even surgical intervention. Consult your doctor for a treatment program that best suits your lifestyle and needs.

To begin with, consider nonmedical treatment options. Schedule regular periods of rest and relaxation to prevent osteoarthritis flare-ups. Rest and relaxation can help relieve the stress on your sore and aching spinal joints [source: Mooney]. You may also find relief from back pain and stiffness with heat therapy: Apply warm towels or heat packs to your sore back joints. You can also try hot water therapy by soaking in a hot bath or whirlpool. Heat therapy is great for decreasing inflammation and swelling and can even improve your circulation [source: Mooney]. Cold therapy can also help relieve your back pain and soreness. An appropriate exercise program and weight control can also help you cope with multilevel osteoarthritis [source: NIAMS]. You may even want to try alternative therapies, which show some promise in pain relief for osteoarthritis, such as acupuncture and nutritional supplements [source: NIAMS].


If nonmedical treatment options are not sufficient for relieving your pain and stiffness, consider taking over-the-counter medication. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin can help relieve mild back pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, have the added benefit of decreasing spinal inflammation [source: Mooney]. Over-the-counter creams, rubs and sprays can also provide some relief for minor spinal osteoarthritis pain. If these less invasive treatments are not effective, you may want to consider cortisone shots or even surgery. In particular, spinal fusion surgery fuses the painful joint into place, stopping the motion of that joint and ultimately decreasing pain [source: Mooney].