Home » Spine Conditions » Degenerative Joint Disease » What is degenerative joint disease of the spine?
Degenerative joint disease of the spine, which is also known as spinal osteoarthritis and facet syndrome, affects the protective cartilage that lines the surfaces of vertebrae in the spinal facet joints. Healthy cartilage serves as a cushion for bones, allowing them to glide smoothly against each other during joint movement. Pain and inflammation can develop as cartilage breaks down in the facet joints in the neck or back, leading to a loss of spinal flexibility.
Degenerative joint disease often develops along with the natural aging process and can affect any joint in the body. However, the spine is particularly susceptible to the effects of degeneration due to its weight-bearing function and wide range of motion. Repetitive activities that stress the neck or back, such as heavy lifting or extended sitting, can further contribute to the development of facet syndrome.
Is there a cure for spinal osteoarthritis?
Currently, there is no cure for facet syndrome, nor can the damage it causes be reversed once it occurs. Therefore, the goal of treatment is to reduce pain and swelling in order to minimize the impact of the condition on daily living. There are many ways to do this. For instance, after diagnosing degenerative joint disease, a physician may suggest:
- Stretching and walking regularly
- Learning and using proper lifting techniques
- Maintaining good posture
- Applying hot and cold compresses as needed
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Progressing to more advanced treatments if necessary, such as prescription medications and epidural steroid injections
Of course, not all of these approaches are appropriate — or effective — for everyone. To help ensure the best possible results, it’s important to work closely with a physician who can provide continual oversight and modify the course of treatment as needed. Some patients begin to explore degenerative joint disease surgery if they continue to have significant discomfort after several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment.
Minimally invasive degenerative spine surgery
If you’ve reached the point where you’re investigating your surgical options, contact USA Spine Care. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive outpatient procedures to address degenerative joint disease and other spinal conditions. Our team can provide a free MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate.
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