Degenerative Joint Disease

Degenerative joint disease otherwise known as osteoarthritis is one of the most common disorders of the joint.


Degenerative joint disease is a progressive degeneration of the joints. This leads to stiffness, inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joints. The joint is the area in the body wherein two bones meet. Between the junctions of two bones are the cartilages. A cartilage is a connective tissue that protects the bones in the joint from excessive friction. They act as a lubricant that allows the bone to move easily without causing pain and damaging the bones. In osteoarthritis, the cartilages are damaged, torn, or is broken down causing excessive friction in the joints as the bones move. As time goes by, this causes osteoarthritis symptoms such as: swelling, joint pain, and stiffness.

Synovial membranes are soft tissues that line and protect the joints to allow free and smooth movement. Osteoarthritis may also result in the inflammation of the synovialmembranes. As the membranes becomes inflamed, this causes them to become warn, tender, swollen, and the joints lose its ability to move freely.

Osteoarthritis is known as a degenerative disease. This means that the disorder gets worse over time and causesthe joint function to deteriorate. This may also lead to the difficulty in moving as well as disability. There is no cure for this disease. However, in early diagnosis and prompt treatment may aid in reducing the severity of the symptoms and minimize or avoid complications.

Osteoarthritis may cause several complications. This includes: joint deformity, damage, and even disability. It is important to immediately seek medical care if one experiences symptoms of the disease, such as: pain, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Early treatment is also encouraged to decrease the risk of complications as well as to lessen the discomfort.

Symptoms of Degenerative Joint Disease

Symptoms of degenerative joint disease vary between from one personto another. The disease may be asymptomatic or may not show any symptom at its early stage. Furthermore, symptoms can slowly develop.

A common symptom of the disease is pain and tenderness on the joints. The pain can be relieved by rest but becomes worse during activity. Stiffness usually happens after excessive inactivity. Certain weather changes also cause discomfort in the joints. The patient may as well experience cracking, crunching, or creaking sound in the affected joint. Due to inflammation and pain, the affected joint may have difficulty moving or immobility. The joints in this disease lose its flexibility. Pain may also be felt in certain areas around the affected joint.

Causes of Degenerative Joint Disease

Osteoarthritis is known as the collapse of the cartilage that acts as cushions in the joints. Primarily, the disease is associated to aging and wear and tear that occurs in the joint over time. However, the exact cause of the disease is relatively unknown.The degeneration experience by the joints in osteoarthritis does not usually occur with aging. The condition may be brought by certain factors that have occurred in early stages of life. Obesity is a certain risk factor of the disease. Excessive weight causes additional pressure in the joints, especially in the lower extremities. Osteoarthritis has also been related to genetics. A person is more likely to develop the disorder if a family member has the disease.Direct injury in the joints may as well cause the disease.

Degenerative Joint Disease Treatment and Management

There is no treatment for osteoarthritis. The disease may progress and is most likely to become worse as time goes by. However, the occurrence of symptoms may be controlled and lessen the severity. Treatment modalities vary from surgery, therapies, medications, lifestyle modification, and others. It is better to consult a physician to understand more about treatment regimens.

Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the symptoms as well as prevent the occurrence of certain complications. The patient can ask the assistance of physical therapists to provide the necessary exercises for osteoarthritis patients. Activities that involve the water such as swimming are great for the disease. Eating healthy and having a balanced diet also helps. It is also important for the patient to have enough periods of rest. Overweight patients are recommended to lose weight to prevent pressure in the joints. The physician may also ask the patient to wear padding in the joint to prevent further trauma. In cases of pain, the patient may apply a hot and cold compress. People whose job requires standing for long periods of time or causes stress in the joints may be asked to adjust the work environment to reduce pressure in the joints.

Treatment for degenerative joint disease also concerns certain medications and surgery. Pain medications such as acetaminophen and NSAIDs can be used to reduce the discomfort brought by pain. Steroids can as well be injected to the joint area the decrease pain and swelling. However, they can’t be used to often as they may cause certain complications. In severe cases, surgery to repair or replace the damaged joints is utilized.

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