Also known as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease and its symptoms can occur in any joint in the body, including the facet joints in the spine.
The spinal joints link the vertebrae, allowing them to bend and move. Over the years, the cartilage that covers the facet joints can wear down, causing the vertebrae to rub against each other. This may cause the development of inflammation in the joints as well as bone spurs and other degenerative spine conditions.
While degenerative joint disease does not always produce symptoms, sometimes the inflammation in the joint or the bone spur can press against a nerve in the spine and result in pain and discomfort.
Common symptoms of degenerative joint disease
Degenerative joint disease, when compressing a nerve, can cause pain and symptoms to develop not only in the area of the damaged joint, but also along the nerve pathway. These common symptoms include:
- A feeling of stiffness or soreness
- Localized pain at the site of the arthritic joint
- Pain that radiates along a nerve
The area of the damaged joint typically corresponds with radiating pain and symptoms in the body. For example, a degenerative joint in the lumbar spine can cause discomfort to travel from the lower back down to the buttocks and legs. Likewise, a pinched nerve in the cervical spine can cause pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulders, arms and hands.
Treatment for degenerative joint disease
Initial treatment of degenerative joint disease is often conservative, meaning the treatment plan may include pain or anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, massage and lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or improving posture. These nonsurgical treatments are designed to reduce the symptoms, improve joint flexibility and promote overall health.
Conservative treatments are very often effective for degenerative joint disease in the spine, but surgery can become a possibility in certain circumstances. If you have been enduring these treatments for several months and are still suffering from pain and symptoms, reach out to USA Spine Care.
We provide minimally invasive spine surgery to help you find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Since 2005 we’ve helped thousands of patients regain an active lifestyle through our outpatient procedures that offer less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery^.
To see if you are a candidate for one of our procedures, contact USA Spine Care today and ask for your free MRI review.*
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