Since we are constantly moving our joints (which form the connections between bones), most people are likely to experience pain at one point or another. As people age, bones and joints become weaker and more likely to suffer damage. Besides ageing, many diseases and conditions can cause joint pain and deterioration.
The majority of the time, joint pain is associated with overuse, whether the result of too much exercise, gardening, work, or some other laborious activity. In many cases, the pain is harmless and will subside after rest and stopping the repetitive motion.
Acute joint pain that persists for an extended period of time could be due to serious underlying causes. That’s why an exam and consultation with an orthopedic specialist is very important, to diagnose the cause of your joint pain, and rule out any more serious conditions. Then, the focus can solely be on reducing pain and inflammation, and restoring as much mobility and function as possible.
Typical Degenerative Joint Disease Symptoms
Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), or osteoarthritis, can affect almost any joint in the body. Symptoms are most acute in the morning upon waking, reducing in severity through the day, as the joints get better lubricated.
The symptoms of DJD are caused by the gradual deterioration of protective articular cartilage on joint surfaces, which allows them to move smoothly. In the absence of articular cartilage, the bone of the joint surfaces grind against one another, causing pain and possible deformity.
Many patients with osteoarthritis experience some or all of the following symptoms:
• Tenderness and Swelling
• Stiffness, Limited range of motion
• The abrading of joint bones
• The formation of bone spurs, or osteophytes.
Preventative Measures & Treatments
As DJD is associated with aging, it cannot be totally prevented. However, some commonsense and practical lifestyle changes, steps, and measures can help promote overall joint health, prevent painful and disabling symptoms, and slow down progression of the disease.
Stay Updated. Educate yourself about osteoarthritis and stay current with information about symptoms and care.
Diet. Maintain a well-balanced, nutritious diet, and stay well-hydrated. Supplement your diet with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C. Other helpful nutrients are astaxanthin and curcumin.
Stay Active. Regular physical activity including stretching, strengthening, and aerobics plays a key role in overall health and wellness. Strong core muscle strength helps support and protect spinal joints. Exercise is a cost-effective (and often fun!), non-drug therapy. Regular low-impact exercise strengthens and maintains core muscles and joints, increasing blood flow to the muscles, supplying healing nutrients and oxygen. Regular exercise preserves function of the spine and muscles, and releases endorphins that reduce pain. Avoid high-impact and repetitive motions.
Posture. Maintain correct posture when standing and sitting. Change positions frequently, especially if your work is sedentary. Learn to use correct lifting techniques. Sleep on a mattress that supports your back.
Body weight. Lose excess pounds and maintain a healthy body weight. This reduces stress on the spine, and lessens the chances of developing other health problems.
Rest. Regular, sufficient sleep helps minimize the perception of pain and helps cope with osteoarthritis.
Cigarettes and alcohol. Smoking has been linked to disc degeneration, in addition to all the other health hazards. Alcohol causes dehydration, weight gain, and increases risk of joint disease.
Alternative Therapies. Yoga and acupuncture have had beneficial results in some cases.
Medical Intervention. Your doctor may prescribe conservative treatments like anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy combined with healthy lifestyle changes. However, a consultation for joint surgery may be recommended if lifestyle changes and conservative treatment do not improve symptoms.
If preventive measures have not stopped the development of joint disease and you are experiencing consistent pain in any of your joints, contact the orthopedic specialists of Advanced Bone & Joint at (636) 229-4222, or request an appointment online.