Degenerative Joint Disease
Degenerative Joint Disease, also known as Osteoarthritis, is medically characterized as degenerative and sometimes hypertrophic (enlargement or overgrowth of an organ or part due to increase in size of its constituent cells, in this case bone.), change in the bone and cartilage of one or more joints in the spine. In other words, it is a progressive wearing down of the cartilage, thereby narrowing and distorting of the joint space. As a result of this condition, individuals experience a variety of symptoms, especially pain, swelling and stiffness. This is an exceptionally common condition as it affects millions of people around the world. Women are more susceptible of suffering degenerative joint disease in comparison to men.
Causes of Degenerative Joint Disease
There are a variety of causes for Degenerative Joint Disease, but it is primarily caused by the natural aging process. The risk of suffering spinal osteoarthritis increases with age since our spines wear down over time and experience other associated degenerative disc conditions. However, although everyone who ages will develop some form of degeneration, sometimes it is not necessarily symptomatic or painful. Other factors that lead to degenerative joint disease includes obesity, diabetes, smoking and inherited bone deformities that may have been surgical treated. Additionally, careers that entail labor work with duties that stresses the spine can also contribute to osteoarthritis. Individuals may also suffer degenerative joint disease by traumatic injuries sustained from a motor vehicle crash, sport injury or slip and fall.
Symptoms of Degenerative Joint Disease
Generally, symptoms of degenerative joint disease include:
• Pain (sharp or chronic) with movement or at rest
• Tenderness and stiffness
• Limited range of motion and loss of flexibility
• Swelling or warmth of a joint.
Treatment of Degenerative Joint Disease
To diagnose degenerative joint disease, a physician will first review the medical history and perform physical examinations. Secondly, the doctor will ask and discuss your symptoms, injuries, and illnesses along with the activities that may be causing pain. Imaging tests such as X-Rays and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are frequently utilized to assist with diagnosing the degenerative joint disease and to formulate the best treatment plan. A blood test and/or joint fluid analysis may also be conducted to better asses the condition. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition, but many physicians, especially the ones at Healthpointe, can assist patients by recommending treatment to reduce pain and maintain joint movement. Such treatment includes pain medications, physical therapy, stretches, braces, exercise and injections. In some severe cases, surgery, such as joint replacement or fusion, may be recommended.