Degenerative Joint Disease is Osteoarthritis
This is probably the most common form of arthritis. This type of arthritis is the result of the bumps and bangs that we endure as we go through life.
Osteoarthritis is the "wear and tear" type of arthritis that everyone gets if they live long enough.
Any joint can be affected by this type of arthritis. However, when it affects the larger joints, it can prevent normal acivity.
Sharp Stabbing Pain
Degenerative Joint Disease affecting your hips and/or knees can cause sharp stabbing pain with just walking across the room.
Osteoarthritis in your shoulders and hands can cause severe joint pain with simple activities like getting dressed or fixing a meal.
Osteoarthritis of the left knee.
Everybody has their own story
That time when you twisted your ankle as a child you may have damaged the cartilage just a little bit. Or, you fell and banged your knee when you were a teenager may have dented the cartilage just slightly. All of the other minor injuries have accumulated throughout your life all add together.
A Lifetime of Activity
Then over a lifetime of activity, raising your children, things you do at work, exercising to stay in shape, and everything else you do wears on the cartilage and ligaments of your joints.
The ligaments get stretched or torn so that the joint does not move normally anymore. This causes excessive wear on the cartilage and it eventually wears away.
If You Live Long Enough You will have Arthritis
Even having a protected lifestyle and never having any injuries is not a guarantee that you will avoid the pain of arthritis. Just living your life and getting older causes wear and tear on the many joints in your body and if you live long enough you will have arthritis.
As you can imagine, the more active you are the more likely you are to develop osteoarthritis. Also, the rougher the activity the quicker you may develop symptoms.
Career athletes in contact sports such as football or rugby can develop signs and symptoms of arthritis at an early age from all of the beating and banging throughout their careers.
Stimulating Healthy Changes
Interestingly, long distance runners and cyclists are less likely to develop osteoarthritis in their knees than people with sedentary lifestyles. It is speculated that running and cycling stimulates healthy changes in the cartilage and the renews synovial fluid (lubricating fluid in joints) of your knees.
Cycling is joint friendly exercise that avoids the constant pounding of many types of activities. It strengthens muscles which stabilize the joints and prevent abnormal motion.
Repetitive but not Traumatic
The repetitive nature of cycling and running encourages the cartilage to heal and repair itself as well as stimulates the production of the joint fluid that lubricates each joint. This leads us to believe that the advanced arthritis in athletes who participate in contact sports is due to the trauma and jarring hits they receive while playing.
What You Need to Do
The first thing that you need to do when you start noticing joint pain is to see your doctor. You must not assume that it is degenerative joint disease.
As we have been discussing there are different types of arthritis. Your doctor can evaluate you with x-rays and blood work to rule how autoimmune causes of arthritis.