Causes Of Degenerative Arthritis: Symptoms & Treatment Options

Degenerative arthritis is caused by inflammation, wearing away, and loss of cartilage of the joints. Degenerative arthritis is the commonest type of arthritis, which typically afflicts the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees. It is also known as osteoarthritis.

The symptoms can be managed successfully, though the underlying degeneration cannot be reversed. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and various therapies decelerate the progression of the disease and improve joint function.

Causes And Risk Factors For Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis develops when the cartilage at the ends of bones in the joints starts deteriorating. The cartilage is firm and slippery; and helps in friction-less joint movements. When the cartilage starts breaking down, the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough. In due course, the cartilage wears off completely, and the bones rub against each other triggering inflammation and pain.

Factors which increase the risk of degenerative arthritis:

  • The risk increases with age.
  • Women are more susceptible to degenerative arthritis than men.
  • The more you weigh, the greater is the risk. Being over-weight puts too much stress on the weight-bearing joints, and causes the cartilage to wear off. Also, the fat tissue manufactures proteins which trigger inflammation in and around the joints.
  • Trauma to the joint: Injuries when playing sports or due to an accident increase the risk of developing the condition.
  • Some people inherit a tendency to develop osteoarthritis.

Signs And Symptoms Of Degenerative Arthritis

Signs and symptoms of degenerative arthritis include:

  • Pain when you move the joint.
  • The joint feels tender when you apply light pressure.
  • Stiffness of the afflicted joint, more so when you wake up in the morning or after an interval of inactivity.
  • Range of motion gets reduced.
  • You will hear a grating sensation when the joint is used.
  • Bone spurs develop around the affected joint.

Treatment Options For Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis cannot be reversed; however, the symptoms can be successfully managed with medications, physiotherapy, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Medications: You may be prescribed analgesics and non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs to deal with the discomfort and pain.
  • Physical therapy: A physiotherapist will work with you to make an individualized exercise program for you which will help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, increases the range of motion and decreases pain.
  • Tai chi and Yoga: These exercises comprise of gentle and free flowing movements reduce osteoarthritis pain and enhance movement.
  • Cortisone injections: In severe cases, your doctor will advise corticosteroid medications to allay pain. You will receive 3 to 4 injections each year, not more, because steroids can aggravate joint damage over time.
  • Lubrication injections: Injections of hyaluronic acid are known to proffer some relief, given that, hyaluronic acid is very similar to a constituent found in the joint fluid naturally.
  • Acupuncture also helps relieve pain and improves joint function. During acupuncture, very thin needles are inserted into the skin at specific points on your body.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin: These supplements provide excellent benefits for joint pains; confer with your doctor regarding the dosage that you should follow. Also, do not use glucosamine in case you are allergic to shellfish. Furthermore, glucosamine and chondroitin are known to interact with blood thinners such as warfarin and trigger bleeding issues.
  • Avocado-soybean supplement: This supplement is widely used to deal with joint pains; it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and reduces pain appreciably. It may also help in slowing down and preventing joint damage.
  • Joint replacement: You could also opt for an arthroplasty; your doctor will remove the damaged joint surfaces and substitute them with metal and plastic parts. Do remember that artificial joints can wear out or come loose and may require to be replaced too.