What is Degenerative Joint Disease
Introduction to Degenerative Joint Disease (aka Osteoarthritis), its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options.
Degenerative joint disease is the clinical term for a condition known as Osteoarthritis.
According to research by the CDC, arthritis affects as many as 50 million adults, and is the leading cause of disability in the US. Further research by the National Institute of Health concluded that the most common form of arthritis is Degenerative Joint Disease.
Degenerative joint disease can affect any or all of the joints in the body. Osteoarthritis is so common, that research at the American College of Rheumatology found that the lifetime risk of developing knee arthritis alone was 44.7%. This type of joint disease has long become a serious problem in the United States and abroad.
Joints are the tissues that connect bones together and allow them to move. Joints are made up of tissue, and these tissues move as a response to muscle movements.
These tissues undergo a lot of stress over the course of your life. While there is a fluid that prevents joints from experiencing too much friction (known as synovial fluid), every time your joints move they receive a small amount of damage.
Generally the joints regenerate as a response to this damage. But over time these joints can degenerate to the point where they are beyond normal repair. This causes the joints to experience inflammation, and this inflammation is known as degenerative joint disease.
Originally it was believed that degenerative joint disease was caused almost exclusively by wear and tear and aging. While both of those factors are certainly involved, it's not entirely clear why some people experience osteoarthritis while others don't.
In addition to standard wear and tear and aging, other potential causes include:
Osteoarthritis may also be caused by a combination of the above factors, or may have a cause that isn't quite clear/known.
Pain is the most common symptom of degenerative joint disease. Pain is caused by the inflammation of the joint, as well as the pressure on the surrounding nerves.
Because joint mobility is important for movement, inflammation may also lead to joint stiffness, which could make it difficult to move the affected joints.
You may also notice joint swelling in the areas with osteoarthritis.
Those with degenerative joint disease may also experience a phenomenon known as "morning stiffness" which lasts about a half an hour. It can be painful, but generally goes away when the joints warm up through movement.
In the early stages of degenerative joint disease, the joints may only be painful at certain times of day, during certain movements, or in certain weather conditions. As the joints continue to degenerate, the pain may become more common and occur at any or all times of day.
There is no cure for degenerative joint disease. Without treatment or lifestyle changes, the disorder will get progressively worse as the joints continue to experience damage.
However, while you cannot cure the joint degeneration, you can manage the disorder with lifestyle changes, precautions, and nutrition. Those that have degenerative joint disease run in their family can also prevent the onset of the disorder using the same strategies.
Interestingly, some people experience a very mild form of this disorder, and never need any additional treatment or nutrition.
Most people, however, should strongly consider managing the disorder with lifestyle changes and supplements, to ensure that the issue doesn't get worse.
If you currently work at a career that involves repetitive motion on your joints, working with an occupational therapist may be beneficial as well.
There are several nutrients and herbs that benefit osteoarthritis. Most are provided in the form of oral supplements.
Generally these supplements are designed to perform at least one of four actions:
Because the joints degenerate over time, supplements can not only reduce the effects of osteoarthritis – they may also be able to provide nutrients that prevent its onset.
Joints are such an important part of the body that dozens of herbs and minerals have shown promise at supplying the joints with what they need to fight off degenerative joint disease.
However, the most common (and potentially most important) herbs and minerals include:
Proper nutrition is also valuable for relieving joint discomfort. It's important to get a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals in your diet, especially if you are undergoing a weight loss program or exercise program.
Modern medicine has yet to develop a solution for degenerative joint disease other than surgery. But proper nutrition, a good exercise program, and reducing pressure on the joints can both slow or even stop the progression of the disease, and possibly reduce symptoms altogether. Degenerative joint disease may be painful, but it is controllable.
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