What is early degenerative joint/disc disease? DJD DDD

Early degenerative joint disease is when the normally smooth surfaces of a particular joint becomes sclerotic (thickened) rough, decreased joint space between bones. This causes less range of motion, less joint play and more resistance in the motion that the joint does have. Some of the tissue inside the joint capsule called synovium is a thin layer of tissue that produces synoival fluid that lubricates the joint. This tissue can itself become inflamed and produce to much synovial fluid which causes swelling and the joint surface feels hot and puffy.

What can be done for these types of conditions?  Non weigh bearing motions are good to perform to allow passive motion to the joint. This promotes flexibility, range of motion is maintained, the muscles around this structure is allowed to function( stretching/contracting). Prolong bracing or disuse of the joint can speed up the degenerative process. I have found that excessive weight or forcing the joint to go far beyond it’s normal range at one time is not helpful. Degeneration is a slow process and does not occur over night but it is more subtle in nature and can creep up on us before we know it. Degeneration is not always painful but does cause joint stiffness, discomfort and may happen in episodes.

Degenerative Disc Disease is a similar event that occurs more to the disc and not the joint bones. When a disc degenerates it becomes more thin, less plyable and ultimately causes the bones on each side of the disc to come closer together. This can cause more pressure placed on the nerves between the joints. Trauma, car accidents, lack of physical motion can all cause the disc to be less effective at cushioning the spinal vertebrae.   I hope this answers some common questions many patients have about these conditions._

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