Degenerative joint disease of the spine can cause a range of symptoms in both the neck and back that can get in the way of your day-to-day life. While this age-related condition is not reversible, it is possible to find lasting relief and engage in normal activities by working with your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan. An often overlooked but important part of treatment for degenerative joint disease is learning as much as possible about your condition and related symptoms as you can. The following information is intended to help you work more closely with your doctor and give you a better chance of finding the relief you deserve if this condition is affecting you.
What is degenerative joint disease?
Degenerative joint disease of the spine is another term for osteoarthritis that develops in the joints of the spinal column. This condition can occur anywhere on the spine, although it is most frequently seen in the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions. Specifically, degenerative joint disease in the spine affects the vertebral facet joints, which connect the vertebrae to give the spine stability and flexibility. These joints are lined with protective cartilage, which helps the vertebrae glide against one another comfortably. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage wears away, leading to bone-on-bone friction.
The exact causes of osteoarthritis remain somewhat unclear, as it is difficult to predict with 100 percent accuracy who will develop the condition and when the symptoms will present. With that said, there are a number of risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to osteoarthritis, such as obesity and participation in high-impact sports.
Symptoms that degenerative joint disease can cause
The most common symptoms of degenerative joint disease in the neck and back include:
- Localized pain near an affected joint
- Stiffness in the neck and back
- The development of bone spurs
Degenerative joint disease of the spine can also result in narrowing of the spinal nerve passages, resulting in nerve compression and symptoms that radiate to the upper and lower extremities. These symptoms include:
- Shooting pain
- Muscle weakness, cramping and spams
Treating spinal degenerative joint disease
Upon diagnosis, initial treatment for degenerative joint disease typically involves a course of conservative treatments such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, hot and cold compression and physical therapy. Spine surgery can be effective but it is typically considered only when conservative options have been exhausted.
If you are ever recommended for spine surgery, reach out to USA Spine Care to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our outpatient procedures offer less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.
To learn more, contact us today. We offer a no-cost MRI review* to help you determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.