Degenerative arthritis is a chronic inflammation of joints, which can lead to severe pain and disability. This is the most common type of arthritis, frequently observed in men over 45 and women over 55 years. This disease develops as a consequence of injuries of bones and joints. Degenerative arthritis is incurable, but there is a variety of methods to control the flow of the disease and mitigate its influence on your body.
What is Degenerative Arthritis?
This disease is also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Gradual destruction of cartilage provokes development of osteoarthritis. Normally cartilaginous tissue protects your joints. As soon as cartilage starts deteriorating, your joint bones begin the wear out and over some time can be completely destroyed. In addition, your body tries to cope with the inflammation, which leads to the formation and growth of bone spurs. The result of severe degenerative arthritis is stiffness and pain in joints, which in some cases can cause disability.
Degenerative arthritis can be primary and secondary. Primary arthritis is often caused by aging and wearing of your joints. Usually it occurs to people of 55-60 years old. Secondary arthritis is triggered by more diverse causes among which are obesity, injuries, inactivity and different inflammations. Secondary arthritis happens to people of a younger age group. Most often arthritis affects finger, toe, knee, hip and foot joints. However, it can also reveal itself in lower back, neck or spinal bones.
Symptoms of Degenerative Arthritis
Early signs of degenerative arthritis usually include mild pain and local high temperature of areas surrounding the inflamed joints. As the disease progresses, pain becomes stronger and you can notice joint stiffness. Intensity of pain associated with this disease can vary depending on time of the day and weather conditions. Many patients, for example, face stronger pain and stiffness in cold, wet weather. In some cases degenerative arthritis symptoms can be so severe that joints of hands become deformed. Usually it happens to elderly people.
Another joint disease is often confused with osteoarthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. Though the symptoms are similar, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. So, you should know that there is nothing like degenerative rheumatoid arthritis. You have either degenerative arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. A rheumatologist must make the exact diagnosis.
Causes of Degenerative Arthritis
You develop osteoarthritis when the cartilage in your joints deteriorates. Cartilaginous tissue is a firm, slippery thing that enables your joints to move smoothly. Degenerative arthritis makes cartilage surface rough. Finally, if the cartilaginous tissue wears down fully, your bones can rub each other, causing acute pain.
Some risk factors can increase the possibility of developing degenerative arthritis. They include:
- Age. Elderly people run bigger risk of having osteoarthritis;
- Sex. Women are more prone to this disease;
- Excessive weight. Obesity adds more stress on your legs’ joints and it can be an additional reason for inflammation processes in your body;
- Injuries. Trauma can greatly increase risk of degenerative arthritis;
- Professional factor. Some jobs require tasks that put much stress on your joints;
- Genetics. It is believed that the degenerative arthritis has a genetic component, since some families appear more susceptible to this disease than the others;
- Inborn bone and joint malformations;
- Other diseases. Diabetes, gout or rheumatoid arthritis usually increase risk of getting degenerative arthritis.
Doctors also believe that the likelihood of developing of osteoarthritis can be reduced by regular exercise, sticking to a healthy diet and intake of supplements such as glucosamine, which supports health of joints. Physical therapy after injuries also can reduce risk of developing arthritis. It helps to strengthen your joints and to improve their condition.
One of the most severe types of osteoarthritis is degenerative arthritis of the spine. It is also known as spondylosis. To prevent this disease you should avoid excessive physical activity and not gain extra weight. Although, do not neglect moderate physical exercising and healthy nourishment.
Diagnosing of Osteoarthritis and Its Treatment
Often doctors can diagnose degenerative arthritis by interviewing a patient and conducting a simple physical examination. To confirm the diagnosis and determine the most appropriate course of treatment for degenerative arthritis specialists use such diagnostic tools as radiographic evaluation, synovial fluid analysis and arthroscopy. To eliminate pain doctors prescribe medicine and physical therapy. Sometimes alternative therapy such as acupuncture or natural remedies is also helpful. Some cases require surgery, in order that the patient can cope with the disease. During the operation surgeons replace or restore severely damaged joints.
In case of detection of the disease it is necessary to treat it. Degenerative arthritis treatment requires a highly individual approach, depending on the nature and prognosis of the disease. In general, patients need to stay in a hospital for some time and once or twice a year go to special resort facilities. As a rule, doctors prescribe painkillers, hormonal drugs and physiotherapy, physical exercises and massage.