What is Degenerative Joint Disease?
Degenerative joint disease occurs when the cartilage inside your joints breaks down. Commonly known as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease strikes one in three adults over the age of 65. Without treatment, osteoarthritis becomes worse over time, which can affect movement and cause pain in heavily used joints that include those in your hands, spine, hips, and knees. Getting an accurate diagnosis and addressing joint disease can slow its progress and help you regain mobility and cut pain.
What Causes Degenerative Joint Disease?
The main cause for degeneration of the joints is age and natural wear and tear that happens over time. However, there are a few factors that can cause degenerative joint disease or exacerbate this condition. These include:
• A genetic predisposition to arthritis
• Gender – Women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis
• Frequent lifting of heavy objects
• Strenuous motions like those common in manual labor jobs
• Joint injuries or traumas such as those that occur in car accidents. Even after the injury heals, there is an increased risk for arthritis in the area
• Lack of exercise
Symptoms of Degenerative Joint Disease
It is possible to have degenerative joint disease for many years without symptoms. A diagnosis may not be reached until the joints have been degenerating for some time. Symptoms that prompt a diagnosis can include:
• Pain, which can be especially common in the mornings or after a period of inactivity
• Swelling, redness, and heat around the involved joints.
• Stiffness and limited mobility
• A grating sensation in the joint
• Bone spurs
Diagnosing Degenerative Joint Disease
Arthritis symptoms can have a range of causes; this is why an accurate diagnosis is key. We start with a complete medical history that involves the location and pattern of your symptoms. We will also assess lifestyle factors that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.
A physical exam will give us more information about your range of mobility and your pain triggers. Imaging technologies can help us get a look at the joint and its surrounding tissues to learn more about your condition. Blood and joint fluid analysis can give us more information about how far your degenerative joint disease has progressed.
Degenerative Joint Disease Treatment
There is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, there are a range of treatments available that can stop its progress and help you reduce your pain levels and regain your mobility. Medication such as NSAIDs can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation from arthritis. There are a range of over-the-counter and prescription medications available.
Working with a physical therapist can help maintain strength and increase joint function. Your physical therapist can also recommend regular physical activities that can reduce your pain levels without putting excess stress on your joints.
Complementary therapies like chiropractic care and massage can help relieve pain and increase mobility and energy levels. Stem cell and platelet-rich plasma therapy can help with healing around the affected joints.