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Cervical Degenerative Joint Disease

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Spine Conditions

Spine Physicians

Michael P. St. Onge
D.O.
Marc P. Oliveri
D.O.

Cervical degenerative joint disease is an arthritic condition that occurs with the natural degeneration and aging of the spine. It is a common cause of neck pain.

The cervical vertebrae are connected by three joints. There is a joint between the bodies of two vertebra connected by an intervertebral disc, and two facet joints connecting the vertebra. The facet joints have a smooth, shiny cartilage covering the ends of the bones that allows them to slide freely over each other.

The normal joint cartilage is smooth, white and translucent.

In the early stages of arthritis, or joint degeneration, the cartilage becomes yellow and opaque with areas of softness and roughness. As degeneration progresses, the soft areas become cracked and worn, exposing bone under the cartilage, and bone spurs or osteophytes begin to form at the edge of the joint.

Inflammation and degenerative changes of the cervical facet joints may result in pain, loss of motion, and, if severe, entrapment or pinching of the nerve exiting the spinal column. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may also include neck pain that radiates to the shoulder blade and arm, muscle spasms, and difficulty sitting, turning the head, or looking up.

If you are experiencing neck pain, the cervical spine specialists at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will diagnose your condition based on your medical history, physical and neurological examination, and diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, CT or MRI scans.

Conservative treatments for cervical degenerative joint disease include resting the neck, ice, anti-inflammatory drugs to minimize pain and swelling, steroid injections, and physical therapy. If pain is not responding to conservative treatment, surgery may be recommended to treat the condition.

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