Degenerative Joint Disease Overview
Degenerative joint disease is a type of arthritis that can develop anywhere along the spinal column’s length but is most common in the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions of the spine. Patients with degenerative joint disease shoud develop a personalized treatment plan.
The goal of treatment isn’t to cure arthritis but to manage its symptoms. Though arthritic degeneration is irreversible, many patients find sufficient relief with a course of conservative nonsurgical techniques.
Four Conservative Treatments for Degenerative Joint Disease
Here are examples of nonsurgical treatments often recommended to patients who have been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in the spine:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There are two main benefits to NSAIDs. First, taking anti-inflammatories on an as-needed basis can relieve pain in the short term, making day-to-day activity less painful. Plus, medication can make other treatments possible — like physical therapy or exercise — that might otherwise cause too much discomfort.
- Hot/cold compresses. Many patients find using heating pads or ice packs can be beneficial because heat encourages muscle relaxation, blood flow, and healing while ice reduces inflammation and dulls pain. Plus, hot and cold compresses are easy to do from the comfort of your home.
- Low-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming help get the body moving, make it easier to shed excess body fat, and increase core strength to relieve some of the strain placed on the vertebral joints.
- Limited rest. Patients should rest to take pressure off the joints and reduce inflammation. However, doctors believe too much inactivity can have the inverse effect.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine the severity of your degenerative joint disease symptoms. Conservative treatment can be highly effective over several weeks or months. Patients who experience significant discomfort or you find your daily routine has to be altered drastically to accommodate your condition, your doctor may recommend a referral to a surgical specialist.
At BEST Health System, we specialize in minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery for conditions including degenerative joint disease. Our procedures are a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients a streamlined outpatient experience with less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine procedures. Contact us to learn more about our services.