Degenerative joint disease in the neck — overview and treatment

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the neck is a fairly common condition that occurs with the natural degeneration and aging of the cervical (upper) region of the spine.

If you have been diagnosed with this condition, one of the best first steps in finding relief is to educate yourself about this condition and the full range of treatment options available. The following information can help you work more closely with your doctor to find lasting relief and a return to the quality of life you deserve.

Overview of causes and symptoms

The disease is present when the articular cartilage within the facet joints has deteriorated, both due to age-related water loss and the breakdown of protein fibers. As cartilage wears away and raw bone rubs against bone, painful inflammation develops, causing bone spurs to form.

Bone spurs may compress surrounding cervical spinal nerves, resulting in pain and other symptoms. Symptoms of weakness, throbbing and tingling can spread through the shoulders, arms and hands. In some cases, inflammation of the lubricating agent of the spinal joints can cause additional inflammation and/or joint deformity.

Treatment options for degenerative joint disease

Cervical degenerative joint disease can be addressed nonsurgically or surgically, with many patients able to find lasting relief with conservative options. Different treatment combinations are effective in different individuals. Commonly recommended options include:

  • Pain medication
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Lifestyle changes like posture improvement or quitting smoking
  • Physical therapy
  • Spinal injections

When conservative treatment has been exhausted, surgical treatment may be recommended. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression surgery to remove the portion of the spine that is pinching the nerve root and causing the pain, and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to stabilize the spine with artificial discs or bone grafts if a large portion of the disc or vertebrae is removed.

Laser Spine Institute offers a full range of minimally invasive procedures that are performed on an outpatient basis with the use of muscle-sparing techniques. Our procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery period.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information. Our dedicated team will be happy to help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.