Degenerative joint disease

Degenerative joint disease is also referred to as osteoarthritis. It is also the most common form of arthritis effecting over 80% of the population that are age 60 or older. The term Arthritis is used to describe several conditions that are caused by degenerative changes of the body’s joints and the joint structures. With osteoarthritis, the loss of cartilage in the joints is typically slow but progressive.

When a person has osteoarthritis it means that the rubbery type material in between two bones deteriorates. This material, called cartilage, is inside the joints and prevents the bones from meeting and rubbing together. If the cartilage is lost, the bones start rubbing together causing constant pain around the joints. This also results in stiffness of the joint which can make it extremely uncomfortable and hard to move. When the bones are damaged it can result in the growth of abnormal bone formations, called spurs, to grow out from the bones. This results in more pain and stiffness.

The problem with osteoarthritis is many times the changes of the joints can occur without any symptoms for quite some time. Often the first sign of osteoarthritis is stiffness of the joints in the morning. Even though pain may not be one of the symptoms at first, as the osteoarthritis progresses the pain starts to become more noticeable when the joints are moved.

The parts of the body that are commonly affected are the fingers, hands, spine, hips, ankles, knees, back or neck. The pain is usually felt after a short amount of activity but can be relieved by resting the joint frequently. When joints are severely affected it can cause everyday life to become difficult. The buckling or locking up of joints can make it hard to perform daily tasks. The joints may also become swollen from the arthritis and this can also cause pain and discomfort. The swelling can make it even more difficult to move the joints correctly. The joint may even start to make popping or cracking sounds when moved. This is due to the stiffness in the joint.

There are a few different things that can contribute to osteoarthritis. Age is one of the most important factors. A lot of people start feeling the effects of osteoarthritis between the ages of 50 and 60. This is due to repetitive use of the joints over the lifetime. Certain careers may also cause increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis in certain joints. Jobs that involve the continuous use of a joint on a daily basis, often leads to degenerative changes in that particular joint. Obesity can also cause extreme pressures on joints and cause them to be weakened more quickly than a person of average weight. Hereditary conditions, such as malformed joints or defective cartilage disorders can also cause an increased risk for osteoarthritis. Joint surgery or trauma to a joint can cause arthritis to form as well. Birth defects or diseases that lead to joint damage are also common culprits.

In order to lessen pain caused by osteoarthritis is important to limit the use of the joints as much as possible. Resting the body is very important to prevent swelling of the joints. Stretching is also a good way of loosening the joints and keeping them from stiffening. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet can help keep your body in good shape. Using over the counter pain medications as well as ice and heat therapies can also help eliminate pain and swelling in the joint. If you are suffering from osteoarthritis you need to see a doctor to get the best advice on treating your condition.

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Last updated on Aug 7th, 2009 and filed under Musculoskeletal Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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