Degenerative joint disease of the lumbar spine

Degenerative joint disease is common in the lumbar spine, or lower back, because this portion of the spine 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 set in.

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 collision could lead to nerve compression and pain by trapping a nerve root in the decreasing space between the vertebrae, or by developing bone spurs that could impact a nerve root near 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, your physician will likely recommend a regimen of noninvasive, conservative treatment, such as pain medication, hot and cold compresses, and behavior modification.

If weeks or months of these methods prove unsuccessful and your physician suggests you consider spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our trained staff can tell you more about minimally invasive procedures that are performed on an outpatient basis. We offer a variety of options for patients diagnosed with degenerative joint disease who are wary of the risks and long recuperation periods that accompany an open spine operation.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, our patients have reported a 97 percent patient satisfaction score^. Take the next step toward pain relief and contact our spine care experts at Laser Spine Institute for an MRI or CT scan review.