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Causes of degenerative joint disease in the spine

As we get older, the cartilage that encases our joints and allows them to move smoothly begins to wear down. When this happens, the bones can begin to rub together and form bone spurs, which can irritate nearby nerves and form degenerative joint disease. As a result, symptoms such as pain, tingling and numbness can develop.

Degenerative joint disease can be caused by any action or factor that wears down the joints. For instance, if you participate in high-impact sports like football, your joints are regularly forced to absorb shock and can thus wear down faster than if you play a less intense sport. Or, if you’re carrying a lot of excess weight, more pressure is placed on your joints than if you have a healthier weight.

Other causes of degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, include aging, having a physically demanding job and being inactive. While degenerative joint disease can develop anywhere in the body, the most common body part to develop this condition is the spine, due to its many joints and the constant pressure they endure.

Though the condition may sound serious, degenerative joint disease is incredibly common. There are a variety of methods available to help reduce the symptoms often associated with this condition, such a conservative course of treatment prescribed by your doctor or a surgical alternative like the treatments outlined in the following article.

Conservative treatments for spinal degenerative joint disease

If you’re diagnosed with spinal degenerative joint disease, your doctor may suggest one or more conservative treatment, including:

  • Hot and cold therapy, which can soothe a sore back and reduce inflammation
  • A brief period of rest to let severe inflammation go down
  • Pain medication, either prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories
  • Steroid injections, which can help reduce severe inflammation

Your doctor may also suggest a variety of lifestyle changes that can help improve your overall spine health. For example, if you live a sedentary lifestyle, adopting a regimen of weight-training and light exercise can help strengthen your back muscles, which will help them to better support your spine and its joints.

When is surgical intervention necessary for degenerative joint disease?

If you’ve tried conservative therapy and are not experiencing the relief you need to return to your normal routine, surgery may be an option. While traditional open back surgery requires the surgeon to make a long incision in the back muscles, the minimally invasive surgery at USA Spine Care is a safer and effective alternative^ with many advantages. If you think the minimally invasive spine surgery at USA Spine Care could be the right choice for you, contact us today.

At USA Spine Care, our surgeons perform a variety of procedures through a small incision and muscle-sparing techniques so our patients can enjoy a shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open spine surgery. Since 2005, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, setting us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. We can offer you a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you’re a candidate for one of our degenerative joint disease procedures.

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