Degenerative joint disease (DJD) surgery, while not recommended for most people, may be the only way to relieve symptoms for others. Degenerative joint disease can be a debilitating and painful condition, especially when age is a factor. DJD is also known as osteoarthritis or spondylosis (spinal arthritis). It can occur anywhere in the body, including the spine. DJD occurs when the articular cartilage within vertebral facet joints wears down, allowing the raw surfaces of vertebral facet joints to rub against each other. This action can cause joint stiffness, inflammation, and other spinal conditions, including bony growths (osteophytes), bulging or herniated discs, and nerve compression.
When should I consider surgery?
Most people do not need surgery to treat degenerative joint disease. Conservative treatments, such as medication, exercise, and physical therapy are usually successful in alleviating symptoms. If you’re experiencing joint stiffness and pain in your back or neck, along with pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in your arms or legs, not relieved sufficiently by conservative therapy, surgery may be indicated. Traditionally, surgery for spinal osteoarthritis consisted of fusing the symptomatic vertebrae, under the theory that if the joint cannot move, no pain can be caused. While sometimes effective, fusion may not be the best choice. Fusion transfers stress from the fused segment to an adjacent yielding pain in that segment. Other surgeries that may be useful include:
- Removal of Osteophytes – These bony growths often develop in response to contact by denuded bone. The growths may protrude into the spinal canal, impinging upon the spinal cord or nerve roots. Removal of bone spurs can be performed as open back surgery or as endoscopic surgery.
- Endoscopic procedure – This procedure involves the use of a camera, small instruments, and suction device to trim impinging tissue.
- Osteotomy – An osteotomy performed on the spine is a relatively rare occurrence and is a major undertaking. It involves cutting or breaking the vertebrae in an effort to correct the spine’s alignment.
- Facet Arthroplasty – The complete replacement of a facet joint (one of the joints located between the vertebrae) is also possible. This surgery is currently experimental. This movement-resorting implant is an alternative to fusion.
In some cases, patients do not respond to conservative treatment and surgery is prescribed. To avoid unnecessary destruction of normal tissue and minimize risk, it is reasonable to determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. How to accomplish an efficacious treatment and while maintaining the least disruptive course of action is the fundamental idea upon which Laser Spine Institute was conceived and developed. With substantial effort and financial expenditure the physicians at Laser Spine Institute have developed innovative, highly successful minimally invasive endoscopic procedures for the treatment of many spinal conditions. When conservative non-invasive treatment has failed, more invasive treatments are required. In the past, “more invasive” has meant traditional open spinal surgery. “More invasive” no longer must mean traditional open spinal surgery. It now may mean minimally invasive spine surgery.
Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute, offering efficacious procedures with less normal tissue destruction, shorter convalescent period and lower risk when compared with traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to receive more information.