Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis is due to the loss of articular cartilage within your joints. The articular cartilage is the cushioning that is on the ends of our bones. When we mature or finish growing, that cartilage is fairly thick, it is firm and rubbery … and smoother than glass.
When we move a joint, the pressure across the joint expresses fluid and waste products out of the cartilage cells, and when the pressure is relieved, the fluid diffuses back, together with oxygen and nutrients. Hence the health of the cartilage depends on movement of the joint. Over many years and with activity and use of a joint, the cartilage may become frayed, injured, torn, and may even wear away entirely. When this occurs, the bone surface on one side of the joint tends to rub or glide against the bone on the opposite side of the joint, providing a less elastic joint surface, and generating higher contact pressures at the end of the bone. Over time, the contacting bone surfaces become hardened and ‘sclerotic’, a process that causes the bone to look polished and on x-rays produces a whitened appearance.
There are three common forms of osteoarthritis, and many people have some of each type. The most common sites for OA include the base of the thumb joint, the knees, and the hands.
- The first and mildest form causes bony enlargement of the finger joints. The end joints of the fingers become bony (this is due to osteopathy formation, or reactive bone at the joint surfaces) and the hand begins to assume the appearance we associate with old age – i.e., a swollen joint involving the fingers.
- The second form involves the spine (neck and mid- and low-back regions). Bony growths (osteopathy) appear on the spine in the neck region or in the lower back. Usually the bony growths are associated with some narrowing of the space between the vertebrae.
- The third form involves the weight-bearing joints,most frequently involving the knees, which are followed by the hips.
Joint pain can cripple movement along with the distress it causes. Osteoarthritis, in fact, is a degenerative disease of joints.The main risk factors that lead to Osteoarthritis are advanced age, overuse of joints, obesity and trauma. After the joint cartilage becomes soft, irregular, rough and thin, there is a growth of osteophytes at the margin of joints. Natural Homeopathic medicines are of great help for patients of Osteoarthritis, both for providing relief from pain and ensuring that this degenerative disease is stopped in its tracks.