Degenerative joint disease, also called osteoarthritis, is a condition that can affect any area of the body, including the spine. Individuals diagnosed with this form of spinal arthritis may experience pain, tenderness, swelling, limited range of motion, stiffness and numbness in the neck, back, shoulders, hips, buttocks and extremities.
Degenerative joint disease symptoms are caused by a gradual deterioration of cartilage in joint articular surfaces. Healthy joint articular surfaces are covered with smooth cartilage. When joints lose this covering through degeneration, boney surfaces are unprotected. Eventually, the joint’s raw surfaces become rough, stiff and inflamed. While the exact cause of degenerative joint disease has yet to be determined, there are several risk factors that have been identified:
- Age – Those over the age of 45 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
- Gender – Females are twice as likely as males to develop this spinal condition.
- Weight – Excessive weight can apply undue pressure on the spinal joints.
- Overuse – High-impact sports and strenuous occupations can exacerbate the deterioration of joints
Some of these risk factors, such as age and gender, are unavoidable, but taking action to avoid the others can slow the development of severe degenerative joint disease.
No treatment exists to restore joint articular cartilage. Most osteoarthritis symptoms can be alleviated with conservative treatments, which can include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain medication, hot and/or cold compresses, moderate exercise, stretching and intermittent rest. If these physician-prescribed treatments prove ineffective, patients may be advised to seek open neck or open back surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive procedures and to receive a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, our outpatient procedures are a more effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery and can help you find relief from neck and back pain.