Degenerative joint disease — diagnosis and treatment

Pain, weakness, swelling, stiffness and limited range of motion in the neck or back can be symptoms of degenerative joint disease (DJD), which is a form of osteoarthritis affecting the spinal facet joints. If you are experiencing these symptoms and think you may have degenerative joint disease, you should schedule a visit with your primary care physician for an accurate diagnosis.

While these symptoms are commonly associated with degenerative joint disease, they can also be caused by other conditions, such as spondylitis. To ensure you get the appropriate treatment that offers you the best chance of continuing a healthy, active lifestyle, it is important to not self-diagnose or self-treat your symptoms.

How is degenerative joint disease diagnosed?

When you see your doctor for an appointment, he or she will usually ask you to describe the intensity and location of your symptoms. You should also be prepared to discuss you and your family’s medical history. Your doctor should then perform a full physical examination that includes feeling for painful areas and conducting movement tests to check for diminished range of motion.

In order to confirm a diagnosis, it may also be necessary to perform diagnostic and lab tests. These may include:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Blood work
  • Discography

How is this spinal condition treated?

If a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease is made, initial treatment is usually conservative in nature. Commonly recommended methods include pain or anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, low-impact exercise, stretching and intermittent rest. If a full course of conservative treatment is unable to provide relief, a physician may recommend surgery.

Before consenting to a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive spine surgery can treat degenerative joint disease on an outpatient basis. By using state-of-the-art technology, our board-certified surgeons+ have helped more than 75,000 patients get their lives back since 2005.

Our dedicated team can review your MRI at no cost* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.