Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is the most commonly diagnosed form of arthritis. The condition, which is mainly caused by aging, involves the breakdown of articular cartilage between the connecting joints of the body, including the joints between the vertebrae which are called facet joints.
The facet joints are located at the posterior (or back end) of each vertebra. They allow spinal flexibility. With aging, the cartilage in our bodies lose water. The dehydrated cartilage of the facet joints can wear down, allowing adjacent vertebrae to rub together. As bone grinds on bone, stimulated bone reacts, leading to joint stiffness, inflammation, and possible nerve compression. Nerve compression produces pain and radiating symptoms of pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness in the extremities.
Can I prevent osteoarthritis?
There is no way to completely prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. Degenerative joint disease affects up to 80 percent of the elderly and can be debilitating. There are many people, however, who show signs of degeneration and never experience symptoms. Living a healthy lifestyle may help stave off degeneration and reduce your risk of developing symptoms. It is advisable to consult your physician before making any exercise changes. Maintain a healthy weight and eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid processed or refined foods and eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Limit the intake of alcohol and avoid smoking cigarettes. The toxins released when smoking have been shown to speed the breakdown of cartilage.
What if I’m still in pain?
Is degenerative joint disease causing you pain? Have you tried conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, massage, chiropractic adjustments, and medication with no relief from your pain? The orthopedic specialists at Laser Spine Institute offer a variety of minimally invasive procedures using state-of-the-art endoscopic techniques. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.