What is Degenerative Joint Disease?
Degenerative joint disease, also called osteoarthritis, is a condition that involves the deterioration of the protective, smooth articular cartilage of joints. This condition can affect any joint in the body, including the joints of the spine. Spinal joints are also called facet joints. These joints are located posteriorly on each side of the spinous process. Facet joints allow the spine to flex forward, backward, and side to side, but restrict rotational movements.
Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of degenerative joint disease are caused by the gradual deterioration of articular cartilage on joint surfaces. Cartilage protects our joints and allows them to move smoothly. Without articular cartilage, raw joint surfaces abrade one another and rapidly erode away. Though symptoms may vary, many patients with osteoarthritis experience the following:
- Limited range of motion
- The feeling of bone rubbing against bone
- The formation of bone spurs, or osteophytes, on the joint margins
The location of these symptoms can differ depending on the position of the affected spinal joints. Patients may experience discomfort in the neck, back, hips, shoulders, buttocks, and extremities.
DJD is a result of the natural aging process and is unavoidable. There are, however, a number of precautions an individual can take to slow the development of osteoarthritis. The following practices can help you minimize your chances of developing degenerative joint disease:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Participating in moderate exercise
- Quit smoking
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Reducing the amount of wear and tear placed on the neck and back by avoiding strenuous occupations and high-impact sports can also help maintain spinal joint health.
Treatment with BEST Health System
Several treatment options are available for degenerative joint disease. Conservative and/or alternative medicine treatments may help patients find relief. This includes medication, physical therapy, acupuncture, and yoga. There are currently no treatments that restore lost articular cartilage.
If you are experiencing debilitating pain, you may consider surgery. At BEST Health System. We offer minimally invasive alternatives to traditional open back surgery. Contact our team today to learn more about surgery with our dedicated surgeons.