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Support for Osteoarthritis of the Spine

Doctors at NYU Langone understand that chronic back or neck pain caused by osteoarthritis of the spine can have an enormous impact on your daily life. Our physicians and physical therapists offer support programs and services designed to help you build strength and manage discomfort so that you can remain active. 

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Physical Therapy and Exercise

Physical therapy and regular exercise are crucial to maintaining a healthy and functional spine. Rebuilding strength is particularly important as you recover from spinal surgery.

Physical therapists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation have specialized training to relieve back pain, build muscle, improve flexibility, and increase the range of motion in the spine. The goal of therapy is to improve spinal function so you can move and walk comfortably for the long term.

In the days and weeks after surgery, our specialists may use therapies such as heat, ice, and massage to relieve pain. As you recover, your physical therapist gradually incorporates exercises designed to allow you to return to everyday activities.

If osteoarthritis affects the lumbar, or lower, part of your spine, physical therapy focuses on building muscle strength in the thighs, hips, back, and abdomen. These core muscles support the lower spine and help absorb body weight during movement. Strong core muscles relieve stress on the spine, reducing the amount of friction between bones at the joints.

If osteoarthritis affects the neck, or cervical spine, therapists help you build muscle strength in the shoulders, arms, and upper back. These muscles stabilize the neck, and physical therapy can help reduce the stress the head puts on these bones and joints.

Physical therapists can also create a simple exercise routine you can perform on your own at home to keep muscles toned and flexible. 

Mind–Body Wellness

NYU Langone offers a variety of wellness programs that may relieve pain, reduce stress, and boost your overall sense of wellbeing, including therapies like acupuncture, acupressure, tai chi, and meditation.

In acupuncture, tiny needles are inserted at various points in the body. Acupressure is a type of massage in which those points are stimulated manually. Both are used to reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and help the immune system to remain healthy.

Tai chi is an ancient form of exercise based on a series of simple body movements that are held for varying amounts of time. Tai chi is low impact, and most routines move at a slow, graceful pace, emphasizing mental focus, balance, and calmness. Many people find that tai chi boosts their energy level and reduces stress. Studies support the use of tai chi to improve balance and reduce joint pain.

Meditation is a form of deep relaxation that has been used by people all over the world for centuries. During meditation, people usually sit quietly with their eyes closed, remaining still and tranquil. Many people find that meditation helps restore emotional balance, reduce stress, boost energy, and improve focus.  

Tobacco Cessation 

Research shows that smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use slow the rate at which bones heal after surgery. Some insurance companies won’t cover spinal surgery unless you quit. Our doctors understand how hard it is to stop smoking and may refer you to NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs for help and support.

Our Research and Education in Osteoarthritis of the Spine

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.