Degenerative bone disease overview

In the most general terms, degenerative bone diseases are conditions that cause the deterioration of bones. When referring to the gradual reduction of bone mass, which makes the bones more brittle, degenerative bone disease means osteoporosis. However, when discussing the breakdown of spinal components, including discs and bones, degenerative bone disease could be mistakenly used to refer to degenerative disc disease or degenerative joint disease. All of these conditions can lead to notable complications, but in the following article we will focus on degenerative joint disease.

What is degenerative joint disease?

Most people have probably heard of degenerative joint disease by its other name — osteoarthritis. This condition consists of the breakdown of the cartilage that lines the joints. Cartilage helps bones within a joint to glide against one another, and when it is worn away, the bones can begin to grind instead. Without adequate cartilage, the joint may feel uncomfortable or painful to move. The body may compensate for the loss of cartilage with the growth of bony protrusions, called bone spurs, which can further restrict movement of a given joint.

Degenerative joint disease can occur within nearly any joint of the body, including the joints of the spine. When these joints lose their cartilage, not only can the affected person experience localized pain and reduced mobility of the spine, but he or she can also experience symptoms of a pinched spinal nerve. This is because resulting bone spurs can extend into the spinal canal and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.

How is spinal degenerative joint disease treated?

Although degenerative joint disease cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed through nonsurgical methods in many cases. Some of the more commonly used approaches include:

  • Adjusting posture while sitting
  • Low-impact exercises to increase spinal strength and flexibility
  • Physical therapy and targeted stretching
  • Pain medication and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

In certain cases, several weeks or months of trial and error with different nonsurgical approaches might not provide the patient with significant relief from symptoms. That is when surgery may become an option. For instance, Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back procedures in the form of minimally invasive spine surgery.^ If you have degenerative joint disease of the spine and you’d like to learn if you’re a candidate for our outpatient spine surgery, reach out to us today.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. By using a small incision that is muscle sparing, our highly skilled surgeons are either able to remove bone spurs or the entire vertebra that is causing pain and discomfort, in order to provide you with lasting relief from your degenerative disease. Contact our dedicated team and request a free MRI review* to learn if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your chronic neck or back pain.