Treating severe degenerative joint disease

Severe degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, in the spine usually comes with age and can lead to chronic symptoms that can take you away from your job, family and favorite activities. The spine is especially vulnerable to the effects of the aging process because it bears so much weight while still needing to be flexible enough for movement. The joints in the spine, known as facet joints, are covered in cartilage that allows for smooth movement and are the most common painful joints of the lumbar spine that undergo degeneration.

Severe degenerative joint disease occurs when years of strain on the body, combined with age-related dehydration, causes the joint linings to wear down and create potentially painful bone-on-bone contact. This can cause joint swelling and bone spurs that can narrow the spinal canal and potentially create painful local and radiating symptoms. If you are diagnosed with this condition, everyday activities such as bending, lifting or twisting can lead to incapacitating back pain. Read on to learn about the course of treatment that may be suggested for you if you are diagnosed with this debilitating condition.

Treatment options for severe degenerative joint disease

While there is no cure for severe degenerative joint disease, there are many effective conservative treatment options that can help relieve the symptoms of this condition. Conservative therapy for this condition is usually aimed at managing pain and improving joint movement.

Some of the most common treatments your doctor may recommend to treat the symptoms of severe degenerative joint disease include:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking or diet and exercise
  • Low-impact exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint
  • Physical therapy to improve joint mobility
  • Epidural steroid injections or facet blocks

Minimally invasive alternatives for severe degenerative joint disease

Surgery usually becomes an option when weeks or months of conservative treatment for severe degenerative joint disease do not bring the level of desired pain relief and a return to normal activity. Traditional open back surgery typically involves a large incision that cuts and tears the supporting muscles, leading to a long and painful recovery period as well as a hospitalization of two to five days. If your doctor has recommended surgery and you are concerned about the risks associated with highly invasive traditional procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, which provides patients with a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures that leads to no lengthy recovery.^ Our dedicated surgeons are able to perform muscle-sparing procedures that use a less than 1-inch incision in order to treat the affected joint through outpatient surgery. We have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back conditions.

Reach out to Laser Spine Institute today for your no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures that can get your life back from severe degenerative joint disease.