What does DJD stand for in medical terms?

DJD is a medical abbreviation for degenerative joint disease, a common condition that often 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 protective bone spurs (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 (the joints located in between individual vertebrae) to gradually wear down over time.

In some cases, however, non-age-related factors can impact the development of degenerative joint disease. For instance, obesity, malnutrition, a weakened immune system, participation in high-impact sports and smoking can all accelerate joint degeneration within the spine.

Degenerative joint disease in the spine 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. Physicians often suggest over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stretching and strengthening exercises and behavior modifications for patients with DJD. Complementary therapies, such as yoga, deep tissue massage and acupuncture, may also be beneficial.

Surgery is seldom required for DJD, although some patients do explore surgical options if conservative treatments don’t provide adequate pain relief. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive, outpatient procedures and we have a 97 percent patient satisfaction score. 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. Contact us today to request your no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a potential candidate.