When you’re dealing with pain in your spine or any other joint in your body, medical terminology doesn’t mean a whole lot to you. As far as you’re concerned, pain is pain no matter what it’s called.
So when your doctor mentions degenerative joint disease as the cause of your discomfort, you might find yourself asking, how is that different from arthritis?
It isn’t. Degenerative joint disease is just another name for osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis – and it occurs when the components of a joint wear down. So whether we call it degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, or arthritis, we’re really talking about the same condition.
What Can Cause Arthritis to Get Worse?
“Degenerative” simply refers to what happens to our joints as we get older – they start to deteriorate after years of wear and tear. This natural aging process cannot be entirely avoided, but there are a certain lifestyle and work-related activities that put excessive strain on your joints and can hasten their deterioration, such as:
- Tasks that involve frequent repetitive motions or heavy lifting
- High-impact sports, like football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, running, karate, racquetball, or waterskiing
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight or obese
- A previous joint injury
What Can Help Treat My Arthritis?
Following a healthy lifestyle with regular low-impact exercises can help slow down the development of degenerative joint disease and its symptoms. However, if you are already experiencing neck or back pain as the result of osteoarthritis, there are any number of combined treatment options that can help minimize your symptoms. These include:
- Hot and cold compresses – Applying a warm washcloth or a cloth-covered ice pack directly to the affected area (shoulder, elbow, knee, or lower back) should provide relief. Just be sure to keep a cloth or bandage between the cold pack and your skin to avoid frostbite.
- Pain medications – Over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brands) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can be effective at providing relief of your arthritis and joint pain.
- Physical therapy and exercise – This helps strengthen joints weakened by damage and inflammation. Exercises recommended by a qualified physical therapist can not only help reduce joint pain, but also help improve your range of motion and mobility.
- Limited rest – You don’t want to sit or lie still constantly just to avoid pain, but if repetitive motion or vigorous activity is causing your discomfort, you should take a break until the pain dissipates, allowing you to return to your normal routine.
Who Can Help Me With My Arthritis Pain?
If your joints continue to cause pain despite conservative treatment methods, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive surgery at Advanced Bone & Joint. We specialize in both non-surgical and minimally invasive surgery to treat degenerative joint disease, arthritis, and other orthopedic conditions.
Our simple outpatient procedures require less than a 1-inch incision and often have shorter recovery times compared with traditional open surgery.
Degenerative joint disease can cause pain for many months or longer, but you don’t need to suffer through it. Seek medical attention early, and an orthopedic specialist will help you get your joints back in working order in no time.
Contact Advanced Bone & Joint today to schedule an appointment with our orthopedic specialists. Call (636) 229-4222 today, or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to helping you enjoy an active lifestyle again.