Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a relatively common condition that can develop in the spine and other joints in the body as a result of age-related degeneration. The spinal vertebrae are connected by a series of small facet joints. Each joint is lined with articular cartilage to allow for smooth movement. DJD occurs when the cartilage breaks down and wears away. This can lead to bone-on-bone contact, which can create painful friction and inflammation. In response, the body may produce bone spurs to protect the weakened bones.
While bone spurs are not always problematic, they can take up valuable space within the spinal canal. For instance, a bone spur in the neck can create pressure on a cervical nerve root. A compressed spinal nerve may send pain signals and produce other types of discomfort, such as muscle weakness and tingling sensations that spread down the affected nerve’s pathway to the arms and hands.
Is surgery the only answer?
If treatment is required, cervical degenerative joint disease can be addressed both nonsurgically and surgically. In many cases, conservative treatment is the preferred approach. That’s because many people are able to achieve meaningful relief if they commit to a relatively simple routine that includes:
- Using medications as needed
When is surgery the right answer?
As a general rule of thumb, if several weeks or months of conservative degenerative joint disease treatment do not provide the necessary relief, it may be time to consider elective surgery, although this does not necessarily mean that a highly invasive, open neck procedure is in order. For instance, the surgeons at USA Spine Care may suggest minimally invasive decompression surgery to remove soft or bony tissue that is pinching a nerve root in your neck. To complement your decompression procedure, we may recommend minimally invasive stabilization surgery to provide support to your spine after tissue is removed.
Contact USA Spine Care to learn more about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures. If you’d like to find out if you’re a candidate, we give you a no-cost MRI review.*
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