Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) of the Spine

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 for degenerative joint disease of the spine 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.

Spine osteoarthritis infographic

Back to Spinal Conditions

MedStar Washington Hospital Center Now Offering Novel Robotic Platform to Diagnose Lung Conditions

WASHINGTON – MedStar Washington Hospital Center became first in the Mid-Atlantic region to offer a new innovation designed to allow physicians to diagnose small peripheral lung nodules with greater precision and accuracy. These small masses or spots can be very difficult or nearly impossible to reach with traditional bronchoscopes. Auris Health’s Monarch™ Platform includes a flexible robotic endoscope that doctors use to navigate deep into the lungs and obtain tissue samples for biopsy to determine if lung disease or cancer is present. To date, seven patients have undergone the procedure at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, in part because it has no symptoms in its early stages,” said John F. Lazar, MD, director of Thoracic Robotic Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The Monarch Platform provides excellent reach, vision and control for bronchoscopic procedures, transforming how we diagnose suspicious nodules in the lung. We are excited about the promise of this technology and are hopeful that it will have a positive impact on our future patients battling lung disease.”

Currently, there are a variety of diagnostic options available for lung conditions, but all have limitations in accuracy, safety, or invasiveness. These limitations can lead to false results or side effects, such as collapsed lung and bleeding, which may extend hospital stays. The development of new advanced technologies, like the Monarch Platform, could allow the opportunity to make an earlier diagnosis, potentially saving many lives.

A multi-disciplinary team consisting of Dr. Lazar and Dr. Jessica Wang Memoli from Pulmonary, Critical Care and Respiratory Services lead the lung health program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. This partnership between medicine and surgery allows patients to receive the most comprehensive evaluation and treatment.

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MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. It also is a respected top facility in the areas of cancer, diabetes & endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, pulmonology and urology. It operates MedSTAR, a nationally-verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.