Degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the neck is a fairly common condition because its causes are rooted in the years of wear and tear that naturally take a toll on the vertebrae, intervertebral discs and joints of the cervical spine. The disease is present when the articular cartilage within facet joints (the joints between the vertebrae) has deteriorated, both due to age-related water loss and the breakdown of protein fibers. As cartilage wears away and raw bone rubs against bone, painful inflammation develops, stimulating osteophyte, or bone spur, formation. Bone spurs may compress surrounding cervical spinal nerves. Symptoms of weakness, throbbing and tingling can spread through the shoulders, arms and hands. In some cases, inflammation of the synovial capsule, which produces the lubricating agent of the spinal joints, can cause additional inflammation and/or joint deformity.
Surgery for degenerative joint disease
Cervical degenerative joint disease can be addressed non-surgically or surgically. Surgical options include:
- Spinal fusion – This surgery involves the removal of an intervertebral disc and uses a bone graft and stabilizing implants to fuse the two vertebrae surrounding the disc into one segment of solid bone. Ideally, the fused section re-establishes proper positioning of the vertebrae and takes pressure off pinched nerves.
- Laminectomy – This surgery is aimed at removing vertebral bone to make space for or remove bone spurs that may have developed in the joint space. Osteophytes are produced by the body in a reaction to inflammation in degenerative joints. Spurs can cause neural compression.
Is surgery my only treatment option?
Before considering elective surgery, conservative treatment of symptoms should be attempted. Different treatment combinations are effective in different individuals. Pain medication, hot-cold compresses, behavior modification and gentle stretching are all viable options your physician may recommend. If weeks or months of these therapies prove ineffective, surgery may be prescribed. To avoid needless destruction of normal tissue and minimize risk, it is reasonable to seek out the least invasive and most effective surgical treatment possible. Accomplishing an effective treatment while maintaining the least disruptive course of action is the fundamental idea upon which Laser Spine Institute was conceived and developed. With considerable effort and financial expenditure, the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute have perfected innovative, highly successful minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of many spinal conditions. When conservative, non-invasive treatment has failed, more invasive treatments often are required. In the past, “more invasive” has meant traditional open spinal surgery, but this is not the case today. It now may indicate minimally invasive spine surgery.
Laser Spine Institute offers a full range of minimally invasive procedures that are performed on an outpatient basis. Which Laser Spine Institute procedure is best for any given individual must be determined at a personal consultation. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information, or for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.