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What Is the Treatment for Spondylosis?
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There is no treatment to reverse the process of spondylosis, because it is a degenerative process. The treatments for spondylosis target the back pain and neck pain that spondylosis can cause. Therefore, the treatment of spondylosis is similar to the treatment of back pain and neck pain. Available treatments fall into several categories: medications, self-care, exercise and physical therapy, adjunctive therapies (chiropractics and acupuncture), minimally invasive procedures such as injections, and surgery.
What Medications Treat Spondylosis?
No medication has been proven to reverse the degenerative process of spondylosis. Treatment of pain from spondylosis commonly includes anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics (pain medications), and muscle relaxants. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, can be very effective in relieving back and neck pain from spondylosis. Some of these medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), are available without a prescription. Other NSAIDs are prescription strength and may be prescribed by a health-care professional. Muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) and tizanidine (Zanaflex) are examples of prescription medications that can relieve the muscle spasm associated with spondylosis. Analgesics (pain medications), such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and tramadol (Ultram), are used to treat pain. If the pain is extremely severe, sometimes a narcotic medication (Norco, Vicodin or others) is prescribed for the first several days. Fish oil is known to be anti-inflammatory and has been proven to improve several conditions such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. There are some studies suggesting it may improve back and neck pain symptoms, as well.
Certain antidepressants are helpful in treating chronic back pain. Medications termed tricyclic antidepressants, including amitriptyline (Elavil) and doxepin (Sinequan), have been used for many years, in low doses, to treat chronic back pain, neck pain, and other pain. Recently, another antidepressant, duloxetine (Cymbalta), has been shown to improve chronic back pain. Cymbalta is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA approved) to treat chronic low back pain, as well as other chronic pain conditions.
Some people find topical medications, which are massaged directly onto the location of the pain, helpful in relieving pain from spondylosis. These medications work in different ways, and many are available without a prescription. Some examples of topical medications include Aspercreme, which contains aspirin and is anti-inflammatory. Capsaicin cream is another topical medication which many find helpful. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili pepper and should not be used on areas where the skin is cut or irritated. After application, thorough hand washing is important, especially prior to touching the face, to avoid irritation from the capsaicin.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/20/2016
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