If you’re suffering from lower back pain, you’re not alone. Americans spend approximately $90 billion per year on back pain treatments. Another $10 to $20 billion is lost in missed economic productivity. Lumbar degenerative joint disease is a painful condition that gets worse over time, so you need to seek treatment as early as possible to prevent more serious consequences. Dr. Branko Skovrlj at NU-Spine in Edison, NJ offers a wide range of treatments for your condition. When you need aggressive treatments that provide long-lasting results, call on Dr. Skovrlj, a renowned spinal neurosurgeon.
What Is Lumbar Degenerative Joint Disease?
Lumbar degenerative joint disease is a chronic condition that refers to osteoarthritis in the vertebrae of your lower spine. Although similar to lumbar degenerative disc disease, lumbar degenerative joint disease causes lower back pain that stems from the vertebral joints’ bones, while the disc disease affects the pads or discs between them.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It develops as you age. It occurs when the protective cartilage between your joints breaks down, a process that tends to evolve slowly over time. While it can appear suddenly, it most often a slow-developing disease that produces increasingly painful symptoms.
What Should I Do about Degenerative Joint Disease?
Visit Dr. Branko Skovrlj, the founder of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in Edison, New Jersey. There are many reasons to chose Dr. Skovrlj, including:
- He’s an expert in treating lumbar degenerative joint disease.
- Through years of intensive training and experience, he’s found the most effective, lasting solutions to this sometimes-crippling condition.
- He’s a neurosurgeon who specializes in spine surgery; in fact, he’s dedicated his career to studying the spine and helping people out of pain.
At the same time, Dr. Skovrlj can’t reverse the joint damage, so you need to seek treatment as soon as possible. He’s been successful in treating osteoarthritis and other low back pain with minimally-invasive procedures.
What Are the Symptoms of Lumbar Degenerative Joint Disease?
The symptoms of lumbar degenerative joint disease appear slowly and worsen as the joints in your lower back continue to degenerate. You may notice some or all of the common symptoms in your lower back, such as:
- Pain during or after exercise
- Stiffness after sedentary periods
- A lower back that’s tender to the touch
- A lack of flexibility while performing activities
- A grinding feeling when your joints move
- Bone spurs around the joints
- Swelling and inflammation of the joints
What Are the Risk Factors for Lumbar Degenerative Joint Disease?
Roughly 80 percent of Americans over 55 years of age develop enough osteoarthritis to be visible on an x-ray, and about 60 percent of them show symptoms. Lumbar spine osteoarthritis affects between 40 and 85 percent of adults.
The spine’s facet joint is similar to those in your hands and feet, so it suffers the same sort of degenerative tendencies. While lumbar degenerative joint disease can happen to anyone, certain conditions and activities make you more susceptible, including:
- The incidence of osteoarthritis increases with age.
- Excessive weight on the spinal facet joints can wear down the cartilage. Obesity also increases the metabolic system, and additional fat tissue results in higher inflammation.
- Osteoarthritis and other bone diseases tend to run in families.
- High blood sugar levels result in more free radicals within the body and higher oxidative stress.
- High cholesterol. Elevated lipid levels create deposits in your cartilage and inhibit the blood flow to your bones.
- Bone deformities. Vertebral joints deformed at birth have a higher likelihood of developing lumbar degenerative joint disease.
- Women, particularly post-menopause, have a higher incidence of osteoporosis than men.
- Joint stress. Occupations or activities that place more stress on your lower back can lead to osteoporosis of the spine.
What Are the Common Lumbar Degenerative Joint Disease Treatments?
While there’s currently no cure for osteoporosis on any joint in your body, your general practitioner or internist may recommend conservative treatments to reduce your discomfort, such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Prescription drugs, such as Duloxetine, an antidepressant
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility
- Occupational therapy that teaches you better work habits to avoid back pain
- Cortisone injections, which is an anti-inflammatory treatment
These treatments tend to work on mild cases or when the degeneration is caught early. Sometimes, their effect is temporary, and the pain returns. If either of these results happen to you, the next step is to try surgical options for lumbar degenerative joint disease treatment. Surgery often provides lasting pain relief.
What Are the Surgical Treatments for Degenerative Joint Disease?
Depending on the severity of your condition, your general health and your goals, your neurosurgeon recommends the best surgical option for you after reaching a diagnosis. For lumbar degenerative joint disease, he chooses the procedure with the most successful chance of resolving your lower back pain based on your particular situation. Treatment options include:
- Minimally invasive laminectomy, which removes bone spurs
- Laminectomy, which removes portions of a lower back vertebra
- Lumbar foraminotomy, a form of decompression surgery
- Lumbar decompression, a common pressure-relieving procedure
- Hemilaminectomy, which removes portions of several back vertebrae
- Spinal fusion, during which two or more vertebra are fused together
Dr. Skovrlj performs a thorough examination and reviews your medical history before prescribing your lumbar spine treatment. Contact the specialists at NU-Spine, conveniently located in Edison, NJ, to get back to a pain-free life.Page Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Branko Skovrlj (Neurosurgeon / Spine surgeon) of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in New Jersey