Aging — the primary contributor to degenerative joint disease

Of all the risk factors related to the development of degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, aging is generally seen as the largest. As we age, the cartilage that coats our joints dries out and becomes brittle, and more vulnerable to deterioration. This can potentially cause painful symptoms related to increased bone-on-bone contact.

Symptoms from degenerative joint disease can range from mild to debilitating, affecting your family, job, or just being able to walk your dog. While no one can avoid the aging process, treatment that offers lasting relief and a return to a healthy active lifestyle is possible. Educating yourself about this condition will make you more engaged in your treatment and give you the best chance of getting back to the people and activities you love.

Aging and spinal joint degeneration

The spine is a central part of human anatomy — it both supports the upper body and protects the spinal cord. It also must be flexible enough to allow the head and torso to bend and twist for everyday movement. To do this, the spine is constructed of a stack of vertebrae that are linked by the facet joints and cushioned by rubbery discs.

As the cartilage and joint fluid that lubricates the ends of the facet joints dries out and becomes brittle with age, the friction and grinding that results can inflame the joints. This is diagnosed as degenerative joint disease and can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Stiffness
  • Cracking and popping
  • Aches and pains
  • Bone spurs that can put pressure on nerves, resulting in tingling and numbness in the extremities

Treating degenerative joint disease

If you have been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in your spine, you should consult with your doctor to continue seeking relief. Conservative treatment options are very often successful in relieving pain and restoring mobility for this condition. This includes anti-inflammatory medication, hot and cold compresses, massage and light exercise. It is also important to make lifestyle changes, if necessary, such as quitting smoking, managing weight and improving posture.

If you have been attempting conservative treatments without experiencing the results you were hoping for, contact Laser Spine Institute today to discuss the minimally invasive spine surgery options we offer for spinal degenerative joint disease. Our procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^

Contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today for a no-cost MRI review* that can help you find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.