Degenerative Bone Disease Causes: Symptoms & Treatment Options

Degenerative bone disease is a broad term used for bony disorders that result in degeneration of bones and loss of mineral from the bones, especially the bony joints. Usually degenerative disease of bones is common malady in old age. For example osteoarthritis is one of the most common degenerative disorders that occur with growing age, the other being osteoporosis.

At least 30 to 35 million people in America suffer from degenerative bone disease.

The process of degeneration generally takes place in joints, both small joints as well as large joints such as knee and hip joint. Together with demineralization of bone, the cartilage surrounding the joint also gets affected. Cartilage of weight bearing joints especially is damaged due to daily wear and tear over years.

Pain and stiffness are two major symptoms of degenerative bone disease. Anti inflammatory medicines, physiotherapy, and alternative remedies are effective in relieving the symptoms. Severe degenerative changes in joints may require surgical replacement of the joint.

Causes Of Degenerative Bone Disease

The cause of degenerative bone disease is not known with certainty, but there are many triggering factors responsible for it.

Although degenerative changes in bone occur with growing age, it is not the only factor contributing it.

Degenerative process of bone can begin after traumatic injury to the joint. Injury can be the beginning of degenerative cascade. Joint is formed with two or more bones. It is covered by cartilage a thin rubbery tissue which enables the bones to glide smoothly over each other. Ligaments hold the bones in their right place.

However after injury, ligaments may become weak. This results in uneven gliding of bones over each other. Repeated uneven gliding and weight on the joint damages the cartilage and may ultimately result in breakdown of cartilage, the main cushion between two bones. Damaged cartilage makes the bone surface vulnerable to grind over each other. The result is pain and stiffness of joint.

Signs And Symptoms Of Degenerative Bone Disease

The two main degenerative bone conditions present with pain and stiffness. These two conditions are osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves low level of mineral calcium in bones. It is slow and progressive condition. Women of menopausal age are mainly affected by it. Hormonal changes in menopause contribute in lowering level of calcium from bones. The result is aches and pain in several bones, especially back bones, knee, hip etc.

Frequently the symptoms remain unnoticed if they are mild. In some cases the condition worsens as the bone becomes brittle. It breaks due to loss of calcium mineral. In osteoarthritis the cartilage is damaged and the bones rub against each other. Usually it involves weight bearing joints such as knee joint and hip joint. However, any joint can be affected.

Pain, swelling of affected joint, crackling sound with movement of joint, and stiffness are presenting symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Treatment Options For Degenerative Bone Disease

Degeneration of bones is slow and progressive. It takes many years before the person starts experiencing symptoms. The treatment measures in most cases are multidisciplinary. Patient needs to consult physiotherapy, an orthopedic surgeon, and a physician. The main purpose is to alleviate pain, restore lost mineral and joint function, so that patient is comfortable to do his daily routine.

  • Obese patients should try to lose weight so that further damage to the cartilage of weight bearing joint is prevented.
  • Pain killers, anti inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, are effective in reducing pain and stiffness.
  • Alternative therapies such as homeopathy, acupressure and acupuncture are also useful in relieving the symptoms.
  • Patient should eat foods that are high in calcium if there is loss of calcium or osteoporosis. Milk and dairy products are rich source of calcium.
  • Physiotherapy exercise will help in improving flexibility.
  • In severe cases of osteoarthritis, patient finds relief after joint replacement surgery.