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Lumbar Degenerative Joint Disease

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Lumbar degenerative joint disease, commonly called osteoarthritis, is a condition in which the shock-absorbing cartilage that cushions the joints in the lower back becomes inflamed, breaks down, and deteriorates.

The primary cause of lumbar degenerative joint disease is age and general wear and tear related to the body’s natural aging process. It is extremely common, affecting more than 25 million people in the United States and one-third of all adults over age 65.

The symptoms of lumbar degenerative joint disease will depend on which spinal structures are affected.

Symptoms may vary from mild to severe and include:

  • Back pain at the location of the affected joint
  • Pain that radiates to the buttocks, into the leg, and down behind the knee
  • Localized swelling, redness and tenderness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty bending backward, standing and walking
  • Difficulty getting in and out of chairs, dressing, or putting on shoes
  • Stiffness in the joints after a period of rest.

If you are experiencing low back pain, the 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 lumbar degenerative joint disease include rest, ice or moist heat, anti-inflammatory drugs to minimize pain and swelling, bracing or back supports, 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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