Home » Spine Conditions » Degenerative Joint Disease » What are the risk factors of leaving degenerative joint disease untreated?
Degenerative joint disease, a term for osteoarthritis, refers to joint inflammation caused by breakdown of the cartilage that protects the joints and allows for smooth movement. Due to the number of joints and the weight it is responsible for supporting, the spine is especially prone to developing this condition, where it also is called facet disease or spinal osteoarthritis.
While degenerative joint disease in the spine may initially only result in minor symptoms like aches and stiffness, there are risks to not getting needed treatment for this condition. To help the long-term health of your spine, work with your doctor to develop a course of conservative treatment options so you can avoid some of the more severe symptoms associated with this condition.
Why degenerative joint disease requires consistent treatment
Spinal degenerative joint disease is an age-related condition and not reversible, but effective treatment can improve spinal mobility and flexibility and potentially slow down the progression of this condition. Options like physical therapy, weight management, regular exercise, posture improvement and massage are typically recommended to achieve this, while pain management techniques like hot and cold therapy or medication are used to relieve pain.
If left untreated, degenerative joint disease can pose the following long-term risks:
- Chronic pain. It is possible for the initially minor symptoms associated with degenerative joint disease to progress into debilitating pain that consistently lasts for months or longer.
- Mobility problems. Degenerative joint disease can cause stiffness in the neck and back as well as radiating symptoms like muscle weakness or tingling in the extremities that can affect your ability to get around. The goal of treatments like exercise and physical therapy is to increase range of motion and flexibility.
- Permanent nerve damage. Bone spurs and inflamed ligaments related to degenerative joint disease can put pressure on the spinal nerves and cause painful symptoms. While these symptoms can improve if the nerve compression is relieved in a short period of time, long-term compression can lead to permanent dysfunction of nervous tissue.
When should surgery become an option for degenerative joint disease?
While conservative treatments are very often effective in relieving symptoms, they don’t work for everyone. Surgery may become an option to avoid these risks if weeks or months of conservative treatment have not brought the relief necessary for a good quality of life and full mobility.
If you are being recommended for surgery to treat degenerative joint disease, reach out to USA Spine Care today. Our minimally invasive spine surgery can relieve nerve compression with a less than 1-inch incision, leading to a shorter recovery time with less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine procedures.^
Ask for your no-cost MRI or CT scan review* today to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.
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