Degenerative arthritis is a type of arthritis is caused by inflammation or breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of the joints. This is the most common, affecting usually the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. It is also called degenerative joint disease. It may affect over 80% of people over the age of 60. Arthritis is a general term used for many conditions that result from the degenerative changes of the joint and its structures.
Degenerative Arthritis is the result of a long standing traumatic influence. Bones grow in the direction of the stresses put through them. This is known as "Wolfe's Law." This is why orthopedists will place a walking cast on a broken leg. The physical stress of walking helps the broken bones grow together more readily.
Progressive deterioration of articular cartilage in diarthrodial joints is characterized by hyaline cartilage thinning, joint effusion, and periarticular osteophyte formation. Joint degeneration can be caused by trauma, infection, immune-mediated diseases, or developmental malformations. The inciting cause initiates chondrocyte necrosis, release of degradative enzymes, synovitis, and continued cartilage destruction and inflammation.
Primary osteoarthritis is mostly related to aging. With aging, the water content of the cartilage increases and the protein makeup of cartilage degenerates. Repetitive use of the joints over the years irritates and inflames the cartilage, causing joint pain and swelling. Eventually, cartilage begins to degenerate by flaking or forming tiny crevasses. In advanced cases, there is a total loss of the cartilage cushion between the bones of the joints. Loss of cartilage cushion causes friction between the bones, leading to pain and limitation of joint mobility. Inflammation of the cartilage can also stimulate new bone outgrowths (spurs) to form around the joints. Osteoarthritis occasionally can be found in multiple members of the same family, implying an heredity (genetic) basis for this condition. Rarely, some of these hereditary cases of osteoarthritis are caused by defects in collagen, which is an important component of cartilage.
Secondary osteoarthritis is caused by another disease or condition. Conditions that can lead to secondary osteoarthritis include obesity, repeated trauma or surgery to the joint structures, abnormal joints at birth (congenital abnormalities), gout, diabetes
and other hormone disorders.
Symptoms of Degenerative arthritis
Acute pain in a woman knee. Isolation on a white background
Clinical signs of Degenerative arthritis include lameness, joint swelling, muscle atrophy, pericapsular fibrosis, and crepitation. Radiographic changes in the joint include joint effusion, periarticular soft-tissue swelling, osteophytosis, subchondral bone sclerosis, and possibly narrowed joint space. Arthrocentesis may be unremarkable or yield minor changes in color, turbidity, or cell counts of synovial fluid.
Treatment of Degenerative arthritis:
The goal of treatment in Degenerative arthritis is to reduce joint pain and inflammation while improving and maintaining joint function. Some patients with this kind of arthritis have minimal or no pain, and may not need treatment. Others may benefit from conservative measures such as rest, exercise, weight reduction, physical and occupational therapy, and mechanical support devices. These measures are particularly important when large, weight-bearing joints are involved, such as the hips or knees. Medication may be taken orally or injected into the joints to decrease joint inflammation and pain. When conservative measures fail to control pain and improve joint function, surgery can be considered.
Treatments can be medical or surgical. Nonsurgical therapies include weight reduction, controlled exercise on soft surfaces, and therapeutic application of warm compresses to affected joints.
Medications Include: NSAID e.g., aspirin, phenylbutazone, etodolac, carprofen, deracoxib, meloxicam, firocoxib) reduce pain and inflammation. Other OTC (over-the-counter) arthritis medications specifically, the nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, naproxen, and Aleve, others — seem to be a little riskier than is acetaminophen, as far as cardiovascular disease is concerned. Even so, many people with arthritis value the benefits of NSAIDs enough to accept their risks.
Nonsurgical Treatment Include:
Orthotic devices: Custom orthotic devices (shoe inserts) are often prescribed to provide support to improve the foot's mechanics or cushioning to help minimize pain.
- Bracing: Bracing, which restricts motion and supports the joint, can reduce pain during walking and help prevent further deformity.
- Immobilization: Protecting the foot from movement by wearing a cast or removable cast-boot may be necessary to allow the inflammation to resolve.
- Steroid injections: In some cases, steroid injections are applied to the affected joint to deliver antiinflammatory medication.
- Physical therapy: Exercises to strengthen the muscles, especially when the osteoarthritis occurs in the ankle, may give the patient greater stability and help avoid injury that might worsen the condition.
Keep in mind that medication isn't the only treatment for arthritis pain. Mild to moderate arthritis pain may be relieved with a combination of self-care measures and lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, exercise, heat or cold therapy, and physical therapy. Many doctors now recommend trying this combined approach before starting medication.
Advanced Osteoarthritis needs surgical treatment like arthroscopy, osteotomy, or a total joint replacement surgery.
Prevention is the best cure and it should start in early adulthood. Though we can't stop aging, it's important to stop premature and disabling aging. Moderate muscle strengthening exercises should be done regularly. Healthy weight should be maintained with the help of exercises and a balanced diet to reduce undue stress on the joints. Sports injury and other minor injuries should be avoided.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.