Degenerative joint disease, also called osteoarthritis, is a condition that can affect almost any joint in the body, including the facet joints in the neck and back. This article explores the symptoms, preventative measures, and treatments of this condition as it relates to the back and neck.
The symptoms of degenerative joint disease are caused by the gradual deterioration of articular cartilage of joint surfaces. Cartilage protects our joints and allows them to move smoothly. Without articular cartilage, raw joint surfaces abrade one another and rapidly erode away. Though symptoms may vary, many patients with osteoarthritis experience the following:
- Limited range of motion
- *The feeling of bone rubbing against bone
- The formation of bone spurs, or osteophytes, on the joint margins. These boney enlargements may press against nerves, causing pain, numbness, weakness, and other symptoms
The location of these symptoms can differ depending on the position of the affected spinal joints. Patients may experience discomfort the in neck, back, hips, shoulders, buttocks, and extremities.
DJD is a result of the aging process and is therefore unavoidable. There are, however, a number of precautions an individual can take to retard the development of osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy bodyweight, eating a well-balanced diet, participating in moderate exercise, not smoking, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can all help to keep the spine healthy. Reducing the amount of wear and tear placed on the neck and back by avoiding strenuous occupations and high-impact sports can also help maintain spinal joint health.
Several treatment options are available for degenerative joint disease. Conservative and/or alternative medicine treatments, such as pain medication, physical therapy, acupuncture, and yoga, may help many patients find symptomatic relief. Others may opt for surgery to treat the cause of symptoms. There are currently no treatments which restore lost articular cartilage. If you are considering neck or back surgery, consult the orthopedic specialists at Laser Spine Institute. Our endoscopic procedures are safe and effective and have helped tens of thousands of patients recover spinal health. Contact us to learn more and to receive a complimentary review of your latest MRI or CT scan.