Treatment of Degenerative Joint Disease
Degenerative joint disease, most commonly known as osteoarthritis, is a painful degenerative condition that results in the deterioration of cartilage tissues that support the weight-bearing joints in the body. Once the cartilage is thinned or lost, the constant grinding of bones against each other causes pain and stiffness around the joint. Abnormal and excess bone formations called spurs grow from the damaged bones, causing further pain and stiffness. Statistics show that degenerative joint disease affects 80% of people over the age of 60.
The body contains three different types of cartilage: articular, which covers joint surfaces; fibrocartilage, which is found in the knee meniscus and vertebral disk; and elastic cartilage, which is found in the outer ear. They are distinguished by structure, elasticity and strength. Cartilage is a complex, living tissue that lines the bony surface of joints. It provides shock absorption, enabling the joints to withstand weight bearing through the range of motion needed to perform daily activities as well as athletic endeavors. Articular cartilage damage is the most common type of cartilage damage, and can occur as a result either of injury or degeneration caused by wear and tear. Depending on the extent of the damage, and the location of the injury, articular cartilage cells may heal. However, articular cartilage has no direct blood supply, so it has little or no capacity to repair itself. If an injury penetrates the bone beneath the cartilage, the underlying bone provides some blood to the area, improving the chance of healing.
What are the causes of degenerative joint disease?
It is important to note that, although associated with old age,osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease are not simply a result of the aging process, nor are they a result of general wear and tear on joints, as some believe. These conditions almost always begin as a ligament weakness resulting from injury.
Joints are composed of two bones covered with articular cartilage, which allows the joint to glide, and ligaments, which hold the two bones together. Healthy articular cartilage and ligaments enable the bones to glide evenly over one another. If the ligaments become weak, the bones will glide in an uneven manner. One area of the bone will bear additional weight on the articular cartilage when the joint is stressed. This uneven distribution of joint stress creates an even greater strain on the weakened ligament. Eventually all ligaments of the joint become lax and the joint becomes more and more unstable. As a result, articular cartilage breakdown occurs, causing a grinding or crunching noise when the joint is moved—as well as pain!
How does degenerative joint disease cause pain?
When ligaments can no longer stabilize joints, muscles and tendons will tense, often increasing a person’s pain. When these soft tissues can no longer do the stabilizing work, the bony surfaces rub against each other.
As the condition develops, the bone around the affected joint thickens, and bony growths called osteophytes form. If the synovial tissue that lines the joint capsule becomes inflamed, fluid may accumulate within the joint. This causes pain and swelling in the joints and decreases their mobility. In later stages of the disease, decreased amounts of cartilage in the joints hinder movement.
Although natural medicine specialists such as Prolotherapy physicians see a clear link between ligament injury and degenerative joint disease, conventional medical practitioners cannot reach consensus on a cause of this condition. They identify certain factors that may increase the risk of developing the disorder, including repeated strenuous activity or reoccurring injury, excessive weight gain, and possibly heredity.
Treatment for degenerative joint disease
Traditional pain management medicine continues to search for drugs, devices and surgical procedures to eliminate the chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs have become a billion dollar business. While the drugs may provide temporary relief, they do nothing to correct the underlying condition causing the pain. In fact, in the long run, these medications do more damage than good.
Another common pain treatment is a cortisone shot. It’s also one of the quickest ways to lose strength at the ligament-bone (fibro-osseous) junction. Cortisone and other steroid shots have adverse affects on bone, cartilage and soft tissue healing. Unfortunately, many people suffering from chronic pain look for quick relief without thinking about the long-term, potentially harmful side effects that could occur. The problem with cortisone is that, although immediate pain relief is possible, it inhibits nearly every aspect of healing, making the pain condition even worse!
In simple terms, anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone shots are anti-healing. They result in long-term loss of function and even more chronic pain by actually inhibiting the healing process of soft tissues and accelerating cartilage degeneration. Plus, long-term use of these drugs can lead to other sources of chronic pain, allergies, leaky gut syndrome and other serious side effects.
Surgery for degenerative joint disease
Finally, when all else fails, patients with osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease are referred to a surgeon. Although surgery may provide temporary pain relief, this invasive treatment usually makes the condition even worse! Remember, osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the result of an injury to a joint that was never allowed to heal. And healing is possible!
Anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone shots, arthroscopy and surgery used to treat osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease all contribute to the downward spiral in the development of these conditions. All of these treatments help destroy the articular cartilage, which is the very structure that prevents us from getting arthritis and degenerative joint disease. It will be your choice; choose arthritis for your future or choose Prolotherapy.
Caring Medical’s Approach to Treating Degenerative Joint Disease
The way to alleviate pain from degenerative joints is to stimulate soft tissue, ligament and cartilage repair with Prolotherapy. Osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease involve the deterioration of the articular cartilage that lines the joints and related changes in adjacent bones and joints. This deterioration occurs because the supporting structures of the joints, primarily the ligaments, become injured . . . NOT because of general wear and tear on the joints or as an inevitable part of aging! Ligament injury is the culprit.
Progression of degenerative joint disease
- A ligament is damaged through overuse or trauma, such as a sports injury or an accident.
- Because of the ligament’s poor blood supply, it does not heal (unlike muscles, which have a good blood supply and heal quite easily).
- Over time, the injured ligament weakens, like a stretched rubber band that has lost its elasticity.
- Since ligaments function as joint stabilizers, the injured ligament is no longer capable of doing its job.
- As a result, the muscles must compensate. They begin to ache and spasm and, eventually, the joint or vertebra in the area begins to compensate as well.
- Overgrowth of bone occurs to help stabilize the injured ligament, which leads to arthritis, and a whole new level of pain and disability.
Prolotherapy for degenerative joint disease
This downward spiral of pain can be halted and reversed only by stimulating healing at the source—the ligament. The only proven procedure that stimulates this kind of healing is Prolotherapy.
Prolotherapy is the safest and most effective natural medicine treatment for repairing tendon, ligament and cartilage damage is Prolotherapy. Prolotherapy stimulates the body to repair painful areas. It does so by inducing a mild inflammatory reaction in the weakened ligaments and cartilage. The inflammation causes the blood supply to dramatically increase in the ligament, alerting the body that healing needs to take place. In the simplest terms, Prolotherapy stimulates healing.
Furthermore, Prolotherapy offers the most curative results in treating osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. It effectively eliminates pain because it attacks the source: the fibro-osseous junction, an area rich in sensory nerves. What’s more, the tissue strengthening and pain relief stimulated by Prolotherapy is permanent!
Other Natural Medicine Treatments for Arthritis Over the past several years additional information has accumulated regarding the use of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and collagen II. These products are available without a prescription from health practitioners or local health food stores. They have been shown to be effective in pill form or via injection. Glucosamine can be extremely helpful in reducing pain from osteoarthritis and can also help prevent further deterioration of the joint.
Another useful medicine for joint pain is Capsaicin. This is available either as a generic or proprietary cream (known as Zostrix). When applied to a painful joint on a regular basis, joint-related pain and muscle spasms are decreased to a significant degree. Side effects, other than warmth, are very rare. These creams literally work to decrease the amount of pain chemicals that are present in the tissues surrounding the joint.
As good as some of these treatments are for pain, nothing comes close to the effectiveness of Prolotherapy. Prolotherapy is the only treatment that can stimulate the regrowth of the injured tissue. Prolotherapy can tighten the ligaments around a joint and can also be quite helpful in reducing joint pain immediately, through direct injection into the joint. Proper exercise can then be resumed in order to bring the strength and flexibility of the surrounding muscles to a normal level. The muscles then help to protect the joints from any further injury.