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Degenerative Arthritis Signs and Symptoms

written by: Kumara Velu • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 9/24/2010

Degenerative arthritis is the most common form of arthritis which is said to afflict an estimated 20 million Americans. Learn more about the symptoms of degenerative arthritis so that you could get the necessary medical attention before it's too late for this painful condition.

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    What is Degenerative Arthritis?

    Degenerative arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, is the wearing down of the cartilage of a single or more joints in the hands, spine, feet, hips or knees. The wearing down would in extreme cases lead to a loss of the cartilage. For your information, the cartilage acts as a kind of cushion between the bones of the joints.

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    What Causes Degenerative Arthritis?

    Aging is the main cause of degenerative arthritis. As we age the protein content of the cartilage begins to wear down and degenerates. In turn the water content of the cartilage goes up. This could lead to the total loss of the cartilage "cushion" between the bones of the joints.

    In this weakened state, if the joints are put under stress through repetitive use, it would lead to irritation and the inflammation of the cartilage which in turn leads to pain and swelling in the joints.

    There’s also a genetic or hereditary factor to degenerative arthritis. If arthritis runs in the family, then the chances of children contracting it increase as they age.

    Genes aside, degenerative arthritis could be caused by other health conditions. The common ones are obesity, abnormal formation of joints, gout, diabetes and even hormonal imbalance.

    Excessive weight, in the case of obesity, places undue strain on the cartilage. This is the second highest risk factor for degenerative arthritis after aging. As such, weightlifters are prone to developing degenerative arthritis of the knees at an early age owing to their body weight and the excessive strain they have to bear repeatedly.

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    What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Arthritis?

    The symptoms of degenerative arthritis develop slowly and worsen over time. Below are the common symptoms of degenerative arthritis.

    The patient may feel pain in the joint when it’s moved. Otherwise, there would be pain after movement is complete.

    There will also be tenderness if pressure is applied lightly to the affected joint. Stiffness is usually also felt after the patient wakes up in the morning. The same is true if there has been no movement of the joints for quite a while.

    Loss of flexibility of the affected joint is another symptom of degenerative arthritis. The patient may not be able to move the affected joint to its full potential. For example, the patient may not be able to bend the knees completely when he or she squats.

    Another symptom is the patient feeling a grating sensation when the affected joint is used. Bone spurs are also likely to form. They are tiny bits of bones, which feel like hard lumps, forming around the joints.

    If a patient displays the above symptoms for two to three weeks then he should consult a doctor.

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    References

    http://www.medicinenet.com/osteoarthritis/article.htm#Whatcauses – causes of degenerative arthritis

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoarthritis/DS00019/DSECTION=symptoms – symptoms of degenerative arthritis