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What is degenerative joint disease?

Degenerative joint disease, also called osteoarthritis, is a condition that involves the deterioration of the protective, smooth articular cartilage of joints. This condition can affect any joint in the body, including the joints of the spine. Spinal joints are called facet joints. These joints are located posteriorly on each side of the spinous process. Facet joints allow the spine to flex forward, backward and side to side, but restrict rotational movements.

What causes degenerative joint disease?

Spinal osteoarthritis typically affects individuals who are older than 45. Continued wear and tear causes the cartilage of the joint’s articular surfaces to break down over time. This leads to the development of degenerative joint disease. While this condition can affect anyone, the following factors tend to increase a person’s chances for developing this spinal condition:

  • Obesity – Extra pressure is placed on the joints when they are forced to support excess weight.
  • Heredity (Genetics) – Some individuals may be predisposed to develop this condition.
  • Overuse – Excessive bending, twisting, lifting, standing, and sitting can contribute toward the deterioration of spinal joints. Certain occupations and sporting activities can lead to overuse of joints.
  • Gender – Osteoarthritis is twice as common in women as it is in men.

How is this spinal condition treated?

Individuals who have been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease of the spine are typically prescribed conservative treatments. These treatments include pain medications (either prescription or over-the-counter), anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, hot and/or cold compresses and intermittent rest. If conservative treatment methods fail to provide satisfactory symptomatic relief, surgery may be recommended. In this case, consider the minimally invasive procedures performed at USA Spine Care. Our outpatient procedures have helped tens of thousands of patients find relief from neck and back pain. Contact USA Spine Care for more information and for your MRI or CT scan review.

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