Degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis

Degenerative joint disease is a term for osteoarthritis and affects more than 20 million adults in America. It is caused by cartilage breakdown and can occur wherever cartilage exists as a cushion between bones of the joints. This includes the spine, where the vertebrae meet and articulate at joints known as facet joints. Arthritic degeneration of the facet joints is referred to as facet disease.

Causes and symptoms of degenerative joint disease

Osteoarthritis is rare among people younger than 45. People in their 20s and 30s can develop spinal osteoarthritis if they are genetically predisposed to it, if they spent their teenage years and young adulthood engaged in contact sports such as football or if their jobs require a high level of physical activity. In addition, women are more likely than men to develop degenerative arthritis, and obesity can be a contributing factor. Above all else, the most common cause of this condition is the gradual deterioration of the spinal anatomy as part of the natural aging process.

Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Swelling or tenderness in the joints
  • Loss of joint flexibility
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Joint crunching, or the sound of bone rubbing against bone
  • Steady or recurring pain in the affected joint or joints

Treatment for degenerative joint disease

Osteoarthritis is not curable, but the symptoms can often be managed using conservative treatment methods such as pain medication, physical therapy, exercise, stretching or lifestyle changes to improve spine health. However, if chronic symptoms persist after weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery might become an option. If you are considering surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery may be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain. By using muscle-sparing techniques our highly skilled surgeons are able to perform procedures that offer our patients a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

We are happy to provide a free MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.