Also known as facet disease or spinal osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease of the spine is a condition that can develop when the cushioning cartilage in the facet joints of the spine wears away. The facet joints allow the spine to move freely and endure a great deal of daily wear and tear, which can cause the cartilage in the joints to slowly deteriorate. When this occurs, the bones in the joint can grind against one another, leading to pain, inflammation, joint stiffness and the potential for the development of bone spurs. If a bone spur forms and puts pressure on a nerve root, pain, numbness and tingling can radiate along the nerve pathway to other areas of the body. Degenerative joint disease is most prevalent in the cervical spine (neck area) and lumbar spine (lower back area), as these areas are subjected to more frequent bending and twisting.
Treating degenerative joint disease
One of the options for treating degenerative joint disease in the neck that your doctor may recommend is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can help reduce inflammation and potentially slow joint damage. NSAIDs are a popular treatment choice because they are nonnarcotic and, therefore, nonsedating.
Here are a few types of NSAIDs to consider:
- Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Alka Seltzer)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, Midol)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren, Zorvolex — prescription required)
Other conservative treatment options include physical therapy, hot and cold compresses and corticosteroid injections. You might also consider lifestyle adjustments that could reduce the strain on the affected area of your spine. This could include eliminating tobacco use, using better posture and avoiding high-impact athletic activities.
Degenerative joint disease treatment at USA Spine Care
Though many patients are able to find the relief they are looking for through the treatment options detailed above, some of the more severe cases of cervical degenerative joint disease may require surgery. USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive spine surgery that utilizes a less than 1-inch incision and is a safer and effective alternative to open neck and back surgery.
Contact USA Spine Care today if you would like additional information about our outpatient treatment options for degenerative joint disease in the neck. We would be happy to provide you with a free MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.