Living with Degenerative Joint Disease

Have You Been Diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disease?

Degenerative joint disease in the spine can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life. If you are dealing with debilitating symptoms caused by degenerative joints disease, be aware there are many different treatment options available to help manage the discomfort that often accompanies this type of arthritis.

By working closely with your doctor, you can pinpoint the location of your arthritic degeneration and develop a personalized treatment plan to give you the best chance at successfully managing your pain. The following information can help you learn more about this condition and the full range of treatment options available. This will allow you to have the best chance of finding relief from this condition.

How Does Degenerative Joint Disease Develop?

Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is a condition that develops slowly over time. Each joint in the body is lined with a thin coating of cartilage that allows the bones in the joint to glide comfortably past each other. When osteoarthritis occurs, the cartilage wears away, leading to bone-on-bone friction that can cause inflammation and related symptoms. This is especially true of the facet joints in the spine that bear the pressure of supporting the upper body while being flexible enough to allow for movement.

The effects of degenerative joint disease in the spine can’t be reversed, but the condition can be managed if it does develop. It’s important to understand the distinction when you’re exploring treatment options. Your goal should be to manage pain, strengthen the muscles that support your spine, and work to improve your spinal flexibility.

Treatment Options

Oftentimes the first step toward treating the symptoms of degenerative joint disease is to follow a conservative treatment plan. While the details of the plan can vary depending on a variety of factors, some examples include:

  • Hot/cold compresses to improve circulation and reduce swelling
  • The use of over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage pain
  • Stretching exercises designed to target specific muscle groups
  • Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming
  • Diet changes to increase nutritional value and lose excess weight, if needed

For degenerative joint disease, surgery is usually a last-resort treatment. If conservative or alternative options do not help the patient find relief, it will only then be a consideration. 

At BEST Health System, our goal is to help patients find the most effective, least invasive treatment option. Contact us today to learn more about degenerative spine treatment with our board-certified surgeons.