DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE

Also known as osteoarthritis or spondylosis, degenerative joint disease is the deterioration of cartilage that supports the weight-bearing joints in your body. Through time, this condition can be very debilitating and hinder movement.

Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide.  With degenerative joint disease, the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows the bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. With time, the joint may lose its normal shape and form small deposits of bone, called bone spurs. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float around inside the joint space, which causes more pain and damage.

This condition affects about 80% of people over 60, but it is known to begin from an injury that weakens the affected joint’s ligaments. People with degenerative joint disease usually have joint pain and some movement limitations. Unlike other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects only joint function and does not affect skin tissue, the lungs, the eyes, or the blood vessels.

Although osteoarthritis is more common in older people, younger people can develop it. Before age 45, more men than women suffer from it, but after age 45, it is more common in women. It is also more likely to occur in people who are overweight and in those with jobs that stress particular joints.

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Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. If you have joint pain or stiffness that lasts for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor or physician.

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Sleeping on a firm mattress and supporting the back while sitting can help prevent discomfort. Symptoms of degenerative joint disease can also be treated with Acetaminophen for pain relief and NSAIDs (like ibuprofen and naproxen) to reduce inflammation. Exercising and achieving a healthy weight are the best and most important ways to treat osteoarthritis. A physical therapist can work with you to create an individualized exercise program that will strengthen the muscles around your joint, increase your range of motion, and reduce pain.

If conservative treatments aren’t helping, your doctor may suggest one or more of these procedures:

  • Cortisone injections
  • Lubrication Injections
  • Bone realignment
  • Joint replacement

Some physicians recommend regenerative medicine as an alternative to invasive surgeries that may leave you incapacitated for a lengthy period afterwards.