Degenerative spinal joint disease: diagnosis and treatment methods

If you have received a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease of the spine, there are many treatment options available to help relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. Also known as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease is characterized by the wearing away of the cartilage in joints which causes bones to rub together, possibly resulting in pain, swelling and the loss of movement in the joints. This is a common spine condition, because in addition to natural aging, which makes joint cartilage dry and brittle, the spinal facet joints are put under tremendous strain from supporting the upper body while still allowing for range of motion.

The following information about degenerative joint disease diagnosis and treatment can help you better understand this condition and get the relief you deserve if this condition is affecting your life.

Degenerative joint disease diagnosis

A spinal degenerative joint disease diagnosis usually starts with your primary care physician, who can review your medical history, perform an examination and may also discuss your treatment options. Sometimes, however, your physician may refer you to a specialist who can better evaluate and diagnose your condition, such as a neurologist or a rheumatologist.

There are several types of tests that may be used to help determine if you are suffering from degenerative joint disease of the spine, including an X-ray, a CT scan, an MRI or blood testing, which could rule out other causes of your symptoms.

Degenerative joint disease treatment

After your doctor has made a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease of the spine, he or she will present your treatment options, which usually will begin with a course of conservative therapies. Lifestyle changes such as weight management and practicing better posture are among the commonly recommended conservative treatments. Physical therapy and the use of pain medications can also help minimize the symptoms.

In some cases where conservative therapies don’t provide the necessary relief for a good quality of life, surgery can be recommended. As an alternative to highly invasive traditional open spine procedures, Laser Spine Institute and our team of board-certified surgeons perform minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery. One of our treatments for degenerative joint disease is a facet thermal ablation, which involves deadening irritated nerves in the facet joints with the goal of relieving pain.

To learn more about our procedures and to find out if you may be a candidate, contact one of our dedicated Spine Care Consultants today and ask for your no-cost MRI or CT scan review.