Lumbar degenerative joint disease — causes and treatment

Degenerative joint disease is common in the lumbar (lower) spine because this region supports about half of the body’s total weight. A lifetime of pressure on the lower back can cause the cartilage within the facet joints to wear down, a condition that can lead to bone spurs, joint stiffness, inflammation and pain. These are all signs that degenerative joint disease has developed.

Causes of joint degeneration

The natural degeneration that accompanies the aging process of the spine is the primary cause of degenerative joint disease, though a variety of secondary causes can accelerate cartilage breakdown, including:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Prolonged misuse of joints, overexertion or poor posture
  • Disease
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition
  • Congenital joint disorders

When the cartilage between the vertebrae begins to wear down, the vertebrae can rub against each other with each movement of the spine. Over time, this constant friction could lead to nerve compression and pain by trapping a nerve root in the decreasing space between inflamed joints, or by developing bone spurs that could impact a nerve in the spine.

What should I do if I think I have degenerative joint disease?

If you are experiencing pain, weakness, tingling or stiffness in your lumbar spine, hips, buttocks or legs, consult your primary care physician. After a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease has been confirmed, he or she will likely recommend a course of conservative treatment such as pain medication, hot and cold compresses and lifestyle changes.

If weeks or months of these methods prove unsuccessful and your doctor suggests you consider spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our caring staff can tell you more about minimally invasive spine surgery that is performed on an outpatient basis. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief while achieving a patient satisfaction score of 96.^ Take the next step toward pain relief and contact the caring team at Laser Spine Institute.

We can help you receive your no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.