Degenerative joint disease (DJD) causes significant pain in many patients. Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, can develop in any joint in the body, but is commonly experienced in the vertebral joints in the back and neck. While arthritis can be exacerbated by environmental factors, it more commonly develops as a result of nothing more than the normal aging process.
In addition to intervertebral discs, the vertebrae of the spine contact adjacent vertebrae posteriorly at paired structures known as facet joints. Facet joints stabilize the spinal column while allowing flexibility. Over the years, the cartilage that coats the articular surfaces of facet joints preventing the bones from grinding together wears away. The resulting bone-on-bone contact causes inflammation and its localized symptoms. Inflammation may also lead to the formation of bone spurs, or osteophytes. Bone spurs can compress nerves located near the facet joint.
Other potential degenerative joint disease causes include:
- Repetitive activities
- Traumatic injury
- Sports-related injury
- Genetic predisposition
Currently, there is no known cure for DJD. However, spinal arthritis symptoms can be treated. In most cases, physicians first recommend conservative, nonsurgical treatment for individuals suffering from arthritis. Treatments are designed to manage the patient’s pain and strengthen muscles surrounding the joint structure. Some common treatments include the use of over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, chiropractics, and low-impact exercises to reduce symptoms.
If after several weeks the patient has not experienced significant pain relief, spine surgery may be recommended. It is reasonable to determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute, offering efficacious procedures with shorter convalescent period and lower risk when compared with traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to receive more information.