Severe degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, in the spine may accompany the natural aging process and can lead to considerable neck or back pain. With aging, the spinal structures deteriorate, particularly in the mobile cervical and lumbar spine segments in the neck and lower back, respectively. One of the most common forms of spinal degeneration is the deterioration of the vertebral joints that normally stabilize the spinal column. These joints, known as facet joints, are covered in smooth articular cartilage and possess a capsule filled with lubricating synovial fluid. Facet joints allow spinal flexibility. Severe degenerative joint disease occurs when the cartilage deteriorates, allowing rough bone-on-bone contact.
The various treatment options
There is no cure for spinal arthritis. All conservative treatments of this condition are directed toward symptom suppression. Treatments for arthritis are focused on managing the patient’s pain and improving joint movement. Some of the most common treatments initially recommended to patients with spinal arthritis include:
- A healthy diet
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Behavior modification
- Low-impact exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint
- Physical therapy to improve joint mobility
- Corticosteroid injections
Minimally invasive alternatives
In the event that your arthritic pain persists despite conservative treatment, surgery may be recommended. It is reasonable to do your research to find the least invasive and most effective surgical treatment possible. Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient procedures have shorter recovery periods and fewer risks than traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for your MRI or CT scan review, and to receive more information.