Degenerative joint disease — alternative treatments

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the spine is also known as spinal osteoarthritis or spondylosis. The condition causes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the neck and back due to loss of the cartilage lining the facet joints. Facet joints link the adjacent vertebrae in the spine, extending in two pairs from the back of each vertebrae. While there are many contributors to degenerative joint disease, the number one cause of DJD is the natural aging process.

Osteoarthritis in the spine may occur at any stage in life, but it is widely diagnosed in patients between the ages of 45 and 60. Bone spurs, bulging or herniated discs and nerve pain can all arise from the breakdown that occurs in and around the facet joint’s cartilage and lubricating fluid. Along with conservative treatments such as rest, pain medication and physical therapy, some patients seek alternative treatments outside the medical mainstream to find relief from degenerative joint disease.

Types of alternative treatments

Before beginning any new course of treatment, especially alternative approaches, consult with your primary care doctor and follow his or her instructions. Some doctors incorporate alternative treatments into a holistic treatment plan and may be able to recommend a qualified practitioner. Here are some popular methods:

  • Massage. Gentle massage therapy may loosen stiff muscles and help relieve pain.
  • Spinal manipulation. Sessions with a chiropractor trained in spinal manipulation and alignment may ease symptoms of degenerative joint disease.
  • Herbal treatments and supplements. Herbal extracts, such as cloves, cinnamon and oregano, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce pain when taken regularly. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also widely used, but the reduction of degenerative joint disease symptoms with the use of these supplements varies.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a Chinese method of healing, where small needles are inserted into the body at specific energy-flowing points. The needles stimulate nearby nerves and prompt the brain to release endorphins, blocking pain messages that may be firing.

Minimally invasive treatments

A comprehensive course of conservative and alternative treatments can bring lasting relief for degenerative joint disease, especially combined with a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition and regular exercise. However, you and your doctor may begin to look at surgery to treat chronic pain that has not improved after weeks or months of prescribed treatment.

Laser Spine Institute and our team of board-certified+ surgeons provide an alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery to treat DJD and other spine conditions. We perform outpatient, minimally invasive spine surgery with less risk of complications such as infection, excessive scarring and failed back surgery syndrome than traditional procedures.

To learn more, and for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today.