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Living with degenerative joint disease in the neck and back

Degenerative joint disease in the spine can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life. If you are dealing with debilitating symptoms caused by degenerative joints disease, you should be aware there are many different treatment options available to help manage the discomfort that often accompanies this type of arthritis. By working closely with your doctor, you can pinpoint the location of your arthritic degeneration and develop a personalized treatment plan to give you the best chance at successfully managing your pain. The following information can help you learn more about this condition and the full range of treatment options available so you can have the best chance of finding relief from degenerative joint disease.

How degenerative joint disease develops

Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is a condition that develops slowly over time. Each joint in the body is lined with a thin coating of cartilage that allows the bones in the joint to glide comfortably past each other. When osteoarthritis occurs, the cartilage wears away, leading to bone-on-bone friction that can cause inflammation and related symptoms. This is especially true of the facet joints in the spine that bear the pressure of supporting the upper body while being flexible enough to allow for movement.

The effects of degenerative joint disease in the spine can’t be reversed, but the condition can be managed if it does develop. It’s important to understand the distinction when you’re exploring treatment options. Your goal should be to manage pain, strengthen the muscles that support your spine and work to improve your spinal flexibility.

How to go about treatment

In most cases, the first step toward treating the symptoms of degenerative joint disease is to follow a conservative treatment plan. While the details of the plan can vary from patient to patient depending on a variety of factors like the severity and location of the degeneration, some common examples include:

  • Hot/cold compresses to improve circulation and reduce swelling
  • The use of over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage pain
  • Stretching exercises designed to target specific muscle groups
  • Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming
  • Diet changes to increase nutritional value and lose excess weight, if needed

For spinal degenerative joint disease, surgery is usually a last-resort treatment to be considered if conservative options do not bring the relief necessary for a good quality of life. For patients considering a neck or back procedure, USA Spine Care provides minimally invasive spine surgery that has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief since 2005. To learn more, contact us today.

We’re happy to offer a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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