Degenerative joint disease (DJD) surgery, while not recommended for most patients, may be the only way to relieve symptoms for others. Degenerative joint disease can be a debilitating and painful condition, especially considering the condition tends to strike people at a time when they’re already contending with the limited mobility that comes with getting older. DJD is also known as spinal osteoarthritis or spondylosis. Not just limited to the neck or back, degenerative joint disease can occur anywhere in the body, including the spine. DJD in the spine occurs when the articular cartilage within vertebral facet joints wears away, allowing the unprotected 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 easing symptoms. If you’re experiencing joint stiffness and pain in your neck or back, along with pain, weakness, numbness and tingling in your arms or legs, all of which are 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 in every case. Fusion may transfer stress from the fused segment to an adjacent area, 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. A movement-resorting implant can be an alternative to fusion.
In some cases, patients do not respond to conservative treatment and a physician may recommend elective surgery. To minimize risk and avoid unnecessary destruction of normal tissue, it is necessary to determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. Accomplishing an effective treatment while maintaining the least disruptive course of action is the basic idea upon which Laser Spine Institute was founded and developed. With substantial effort and financial expenditure the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute have developed innovative, highly successful minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of many spinal conditions. When traditional non-invasive treatment has failed, more invasive treatments are required. In the past, “more invasive” has meant conservative open-spinal surgery. “More invasive,” however, 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 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.