Degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the spine, also commonly referred to as spinal osteoarthritis or facet disease, is a condition that affects the facet joints of the spine. Spinal facet joints are sliding joints that allow adjacent vertebrae flexibility. These encapsulated joints have articulating surfaces covered by cartilage and lubricated by synovial fluid. Joint disease causes this cartilage to wear away and the synovial capsule can become inflamed, leading to painful symptoms like joint stiffness, instability, lockage, inflammation, or deformity.
Causes of spinal joint disease
Causes of spinal degenerative joint disease can be divided into two categories:
- Primary – the primary cause of the disease is the natural aging process. After years of wear and tear, cartilage begins to lose water content and collagen fibers break down. The deterioration of cartilage causes bone to rub against bone, leading to the formation of bone spurs.
- Secondary – secondary causes of degenerative joint disease include obesity, injury, viral or bacterial infections, congenital joint disorders, a weakened immune system, prolonged misuse or overexertion, or illnesses like gout and diabetes.
Alternatives to surgery
Surgery for degenerative joint disease is primarily aimed at removing the bone spurs, or osteophytes, causing painful neural compression. More invasive surgeries like spinal fusion are sometimes recommended to immobilize diseased joints. Before considering surgery, attempt conservative treatments, such as pain medication in the form of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, selective nerve block injections, and behavior modification.
If nonsurgical methods prove ineffective, consider contacting Laser Spine Institute. Our orthopedic experts specialize in minimally invasive procedures that target the source of your neck and back pain. State-of-the-art endoscopic techniques allow us to perform these safe, effective procedures on an outpatient basis, with lower the risks and much shorter convalescent time than traditional open spine procedure. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.