What causes degenerative joint disease?

Degenerative joint disease is another term for osteoarthritis and refers to joint inflammation caused by breakdown of the cartilage that protects and lubricates the joints. This condition can result in aches, pains, stiffness and radiating symptoms throughout the body.

Although it can happen throughout the body, degenerative joint disease is especially common in the spine, due to the amount of pressure this region endures. Whether you have been diagnosed with this condition or researching the potential causes of your pain, it is important to understand the underlying causes and other factors that can lead to the development of this condition. We hope the following information can help you better engage with your doctor to take an active role in your health and wellness.

Causes and contributors to spinal degenerative joint disease

Degenerative joint disease is primarily an age-related condition that occurs as the body begins to dry out and lose water content. This process makes the cartilage and joint fluid that coats the joints throughout the body dry and brittle and more prone to wearing down. When this happens, the increased joint friction can lead to chronic inflammation of the joints and the development of bone spurs as a side effect.

When this occurs in the spine, it is called facet disease because it develops on the facet joints that link the vertebrae in the spinal column. In addition to localized pain, inflamed facet joints or bone spurs can narrow the spinal canal and put pressure on spinal nerves, causing radiating symptoms.

In addition to the natural aging process, the following factors can accelerate the development of degenerative joint disease:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Poor posture
  • A job that requires bending or twisting
  • High-impact sports like football or gymnastics

Degenerative joint disease treatment

Although no one can reverse the natural aging process, degenerative joint disease is often treatable with conservative options like anti-inflammatory medication or injections, exercise and physical therapy, massage and healthy lifestyle choices like posture improvement, better nutrition and weight management. Spine surgery for facet disease or bone spurs can also become a serious consideration if weeks or months of conservative treatment have not brought the relief needed for a good quality of life.

To learn more, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute. We’ll be happy to tell you about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery, including no lengthy recovery and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.^

We’re also glad to provide a free MRI review* to help you find out if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.