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What are early treatment options for degenerative joint disease?

Early degenerative joint disease treatment is usually intended to alleviate pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis. This type of degeneration, which is often age-related, can affect the protective cartilage that covers the edges of vertebrae at the point where they come together in the spinal facet joints. As this smooth surface wears away, bone-on-bone contact can occur, causing pain and inflammation.

Depending on the portion of the spine affected, one of the first signs of osteoarthritis in the spine is a stiff neck or mild-to-moderate low back pain. Later, as the arthritic changes in the spine progress, painful pressure on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root can cause muscle weakness, numbness and tingling sensations that travel down a compressed nerve’s pathway through an arm or leg.

First-line treatment

If you were recently diagnosed with degenerative joint disease after you began to notice some initial symptoms, your physician might suggest that you try some first-line pain management techniques. For instance, here are a few degenerative joint disease treatment options that many people find to be beneficial:

  • Slow down when you need to. With time, you’ll learn to recognize some of your body’s signals that warn of an imminent pain episode. In general, you’ll feel better if you take regular breaks from intensive activities and passive but stressful body positions, such as sitting, standing and using a computer.
  • Use hot or cold therapy for temporary relief. Apply a heating pad or warm towel to a painful joint, or take a warm bath or shower to promote relaxation. In addition to providing comfort, heat can reduce swelling and inflammation, and also improve circulation. Sometimes, an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables can also be helpful for numbing a painful area.
  • Take over-the-counter medications as needed. A wide variety of pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is readily available, along with topical analgesics and nutritional supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin.

Researchers have found that individuals who take a proactive role in maintaining their health are more likely to have positive outcomes than their less motivated counterparts. By adopting and maintaining positive lifestyle practices, such as exercising and avoiding tobacco use, you can potentially reduce the need for more aggressive spinal degenerative joint disease treatment down the road.

USA Spine Care

At USA Spine Care, we encourage our patients to seek information about osteoarthritis and other spinal conditions, and to keep up with new information regarding early symptoms and self-care. For instance, if you’ve tried first-line degenerative joint disease treatment and your discomfort did not improve within a few weeks or months, you might want to explore surgery. Before consenting to a traditional open spine procedure, however, you should learn about all of your options, which may include the safer and effective alternative^ of minimally invasive spine surgery performed by our surgeons.

To learn more and find out if you’re a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures, call to request a no-cost MRI review.*

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