Degenerative joint disease treatment

Degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, may require treatment because it causes the cartilage that lines the joints to slowly wear away, including the spinal facet joints. A normal part of the aging process, this type of spinal degeneration can allow the bones within a joint to grind together, leading to neck or back pain that typically worsens over time. Sometimes, the body compensates by producing bone spurs to help strengthen and protect the exposed bone surfaces. However, if this excess bony tissue presses on the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root, additional symptoms like radiating pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness can result.

If you’ve been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in your neck or back, you can work with your doctor to develop an appropriate treatment plan. While osteoarthritis cannot be reversed or cured with nonsurgical treatments, many people are able to manage their symptoms without surgery by using one or more conservative therapies.

Beginning degenerative joint disease treatment

To ease your joint pain and improve your mobility, your doctor will likely encourage you to start out by trying one or more of the following home treatment options for degenerative joint disease:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Heat and ice applications
  • Physical therapy
  • Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming
  • Targeted stretches
  • Lifestyle changes, if necessary, such as losing weight, quitting smoking and eating healthier

In addition to conservative treatments like these, you might be interested in trying one or more alternative therapies, such as therapeutic massage, yoga, Pilates or acupuncture. Although the effectiveness of these options is not scientifically proven, many patients find them to be beneficial for easing the symptoms of degenerative joint disease. If you have questions, speak with your doctor and keep him or her informed of any new treatments you pursue.

Surgery for degenerative joint disease

If you’ve tried several weeks or months of conservative treatment for degenerative joint disease in your spine and your pain is not getting any better, you might consider surgery. Before you consent to traditional open spine surgery, you should explore all of your options, including the minimally invasive procedures performed by the board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute.

To learn more and to find out if you’re a candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today and ask for your no-cost MRI review.*