Degenerative joint disease is common in the lumbar spine, or lower back, because this portion of the spine supports about half of the body’s total weight. A lifetime of pressure on the lower back can cause the articular cartilage within vertebral joints, or facet joints, to wear down, a condition that can lead to bone spurs, joint stiffness, inflammation and pain. These are all signs that degenerative joint disease has set in.
Causes of joint degeneration
The natural degeneration that accompanies the aging process is the primary cause of degenerative joint disease, though a variety of secondary causes can accelerate cartilage breakdown, including:
- A weakened immune system
- Prolonged misuse of joints, overexertion or poor posture
- Congenital joint disorders
What should I do if I think I have degenerative joint disease?
If you are experiencing pain, weakness, tingling or stiffness in your lumbar spine, hips, buttocks or legs, consult your primary care physician. After a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease has been confirmed, your physician will likely recommend a regimen of non-invasive, conservative treatment, such as pain medication, hot and cold compresses and behavior modification. If weeks or months of these methods prove unsuccessful and your physician suggests you consider spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our orthopedic experts can tell you more about minimally invasive procedures that are performed on an outpatient basis. We offer a variety of options for patients diagnosed with degenerative joint disease who are wary of the risks and long recuperation periods that accompany an open spine operation.