Degenerative Arthritis

What Is Degenerative Arthritis?

This type of arthritis is a physical condition which involves the degeneration of the joints. The erosion of articular cartilage and subchondral bone causes stiffness in the joints, pain, and a type of inflammation known as effusion. This cartilage and bone matter is needed to sustain the movements of the joints. A patient's joints may lock due to damage in these areas, preventing him or her from extending his or her limbs and extremities.

While some people seem prone to this bone degeneration due to hereditary factors, others suffer from the condition because of wear and tear from their lifestyle.

This degeneration of cartilage and bone tissue occurs most often in the hips and knees, which are the weight bearing joints. Symptoms also appear in the spine and in the hands and feet. Affected extremities and joints often appear much larger than they previously appeared due to inflammation caused by abrasion of bone against bone in the joints. The stiffness and pain are present whether the joints are in use or not. A small amount of movement will cause these visual symptoms to recede and the pain to ebb. However, continued use results in greatly increased pain.

How Can Degenerative Arthritis Cause Back Pain?

This form of arthritis can cause back pain through its effects on vertebrae of the lower spine. This section of spine is also known as the cervical/lumbar spine. When this condition is present in the spine, spurs of bone will form at the tips of the vertebrae. These spurs are known as osteophytes. They irritate nerves in the spinal cord and can cause severe pain. Patients have also reported numbness and tingling as a result of these bony spurs.

How Is Degenerative Arthritis Treated?

There are five primary ways to treat the degeneration caused by osteoarthritis. These treatments include dietary changes, medication, physical therapy, exercise, and surgery. All five may be necessary to help a patient eliminate the worst symptoms of this condition.

  • Osteoarthritis affects many overweight people and their obesity is often determined to be the most likely cause of the condition. Educating patients about the way that their diet affects their health has been proven to be an effective way of helping them successfully manage this condition. Reduced weight will lead directly to less pain in the affected joints, especially when they are the weight bearing joints.
  • Many doctors try to treat this condition with analgesics, which are pain killers and blood thinners. Acetaminophen is the most commonly prescribed analgesic for this type of arthritis. Sometimes more powerful drugs are required to deal with the pain levels.
  • Some studies indicate that physical therapy, specifically the kind which involves massage or chiropractic treatment, are effective against these symptoms.
  • Exercise is the most frequently recommended form of treatment for this condition. A moderate level of physical exercise helps the majority of patients decrease the amount of pain in the affected joints and improves overall functioning.
  • In some cases, so much cartilage and bone material has worn away that no form of therapy will decrease the associated pain significantly. Surgery may be required to provide relief. Surgery in these cases typically entails joint replacement. This option, however, is not viable when the primary symptoms are located around the spine.

Diagnosing Degenerative Arthritis

If you have experienced symptoms of joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in your back, you may be suffering from this particular manifestation of arthritis. Speak to your physician and request a physical examination after explaining your difficulties. Your doctor will not need to draw blood for this procedure.

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