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Degenerative joint disease and arthritis

Degenerative joint disease is a form of arthritis, a condition that affects more than 20 million Americans. The most common type of this condition is osteoarthritis, which is inflammation in the joints caused by age-related deterioration of cartilage. This condition can occur in the fingers, wrists, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and anywhere else in the body where bones meet and articulate. This includes the spine, where the stacked vertebrae are connected by facet joints and subjected to a large amount of pressure.

Risk factors for spinal degenerative joint disease

Arthritis is an inevitable part of the aging process for many people. Those nagging aches and pains that develop over the years are often caused by swelling and stiffness in the joints that is a combination of cartilage drying out and becoming brittle along with the stress of normal movements. While most people will experience at least mild arthritis at some point, certain groups are more at risk than others. Risk factors include:

  • Age. People 50 or older are more likely to develop arthritis.
  • Overused joints. This can occur through repetitive lifting, bending or twisting, as well as from constantly slouching while seated at a desk or driving.
  • Injury or trauma to bones. Whiplash, compression fracture or other kinds of injuries can speed up deterioration of joints.
  • Obesity. Excess body weight places more stress on the joints.
  • Genetics. Inherited traits can cause this condition to run in families.
  • Gender. Women are twice as likely to develop arthritis as men.
  • Other conditions. Decreased blood supply, chronic illness, infection or a weakened immune system can contribute to joint degeneration.

Treatment for symptoms associated with degenerative joint disease

Symptoms associated with arthritis — primarily pain and swelling in the joints — can often be managed with anti-inflammatory medication, stretching or exercise. Physical therapy and epidural steroid injections may be recommended in more severe cases. Should chronic symptoms persist after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for a surgical consultation.

If you are being recommended for a procedure, contact USA Spine Care to learn about minimally invasive spine surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery.^ We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.

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