Degenerative joint disease of the spine, also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, occurs when the cartilage and discs that cushion the vertebrae in the neck and back begin to stiffen and shrink. When these natural buffers between the bones in the spine shrink (most commonly due to age), the spaces between the vertebrae get reduced and there is a likelihood of developing bone spurs from the added friction. Pain, numbness, weakness, and stiffness in the neck and back can occur when these bone spurs pinch a nerve in the spine.
Most treatments include healthy lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) and pain management medication. Medication may include over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen or NSAIDS, prescription pain relievers, mild narcotics, or regular steroid injections. If a patient’s bodily functions or mobility are significantly impaired by this condition, their doctor may recommend surgery.