What does DJD stand for in medical terms?

DJD is a medical abbreviation for degenerative joint disease, a common condition that typically develops with age. DJD, also known as osteoarthritis, occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints throughout the body gradually wears away. As the cartilage becomes thinner, the bones can grind against each other, leading to pain, inflammation and joint stiffness. Sometimes, the body produces bone spurs, or osteophytes, in response to the friction. The most common areas of the body for DJD, or osteoarthritis, to occur is in the hands, knees, hips, neck and lower back.

Causes and symptoms of degenerative joint disease in the spine

Often, DJD is caused by normal wear and tear. The spine bends, twists and supports the weight of the body every single day, which can cause the cartilage on the spine’s facet joints to gradually wear down over time.

While no one can prevent the natural aging process, there are other factors that can accelerate the development of degenerative joint disease. For instance, carrying extra body weight, insufficient nutrition, poor posture, participation in high-impact sports and smoking can all contribute to joint degeneration within the spine.

Spinal degenerative joint disease can cause a number of symptoms. The most common are localized pain and stiffness at the site of an affected joint. If a bone spur in the spine compresses the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root, it can trigger pain that radiates along the pathway of the nerve. Headaches and fatigue are other, less common symptoms of DJD.

Treatments for DJD in the spine

When it comes to controlling spinal degenerative joint disease symptoms, there are quite a few options to consider. Conservative nonsurgical options are most commonly recommended. Doctors often suggest over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stretching and strengthening exercises and lifestyle changes for patients with DJD. Complementary therapies, such as yoga, deep tissue massage and acupuncture, may also be beneficial.

Surgery for DJD can become a serious option if conservative treatments don’t provide relief. At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that offers our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time. If you’ve tried nonsurgical treatments for your neck or back pain but haven’t gotten the results you need, we can help you find out if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive degenerative joint disease procedures by providing a free MRI review.*

Contact us today to learn more.