Common degenerative joint disease symptoms

When joints in the spine begin to wear down, the condition is known as degenerative joint disease or spinal osteoarthritis. This condition may be almost imperceptible at first, although symptoms can become progressively more serious as the effects of the wear and tear accumulate. When at their worst, the symptoms of degenerative joint disease can interfere with a person’s daily life.

What does degenerative joint disease feel like?

While it may not be painful at first, degenerative joint disease typically causes neck or back pain as it progresses. This pain is usually a result of bones in the spinal joints coming in contact with each other. Normally, cartilage cushions the joints, but degeneration can cause the cartilage to wear away. When joint surfaces rub against each other, it can cause sharp localized pain, along with a clicking or grinding sound.

Pain is one of the most common degenerative joint disease symptoms, but it’s not the only one. For instance, many people with spinal osteoarthritis also experience:

  • Neurological symptoms. When there’s sustained friction within a joint, bone spurs can develop in response. A bone spur can press against the nerves and nerve roots in the spine. This, in turn, can cause neurological issues such as pin- and-needles sensations and muscle weakness.
  • Stiffness. Some people describe feeling as if their joints are “locking up,” making it increasingly difficult to bend or twist at the spine. They may also notice their range of motion becoming progressively more limited as their degenerative joint disease gets worse.
  • Swelling and tenderness in joints. Spinal joints may swell in response to degeneration, making the neck or back tender to the touch. Sometimes, the skin around an affected joint may become visibly reddened.

How to manage your degenerative joint disease symptoms

If you’re dealing with the symptoms of degenerative joint disease, you should know that you may have a number of options for managing your pain. These can range from conservative options, such as medications and heat therapy, to surgery, in the event that your symptoms become excessively severe.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive surgery as a safer and effective alternative to open back operations.^ While surgery is not always needed to manage degenerative joint disease, we welcome you to contact us if you’re thinking about spine surgery. We can review* your MRI for free to help you find out if you’re a candidate for our outpatient procedures.