Degenerative Joint Disease: Not the Cause of Your Pain?

by Dr. Nathan Hinkeldey on May 9, 2012


degenerative joint diseaseAs you age, your body has a natural course of deterioration. It is not uncommon to have patients state that they have back or hip pain because they have degenerative joint disease. While this could contribute to their present complaint, it is unlikely that the root of their problem is related to degeneration. There is a high likelihood that your pain is being generated for a different reason, and most of the time, that reason is something that can be treated by a chiropractor.

What is degenerative joint disease?

According to Mayo Clinic, degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, is the most common form of arthritis, and it affects millions of people around the world. It occurs when the cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time. This condition is usually most prevalent in your hands, neck, low back, knees, and hips. While there is no cure for this condition, there are therapies that can assist in relieving pain and improving joint function. These treatments include everything from different medications to manual therapy, including chiropractic manipulation, exercise, and muscle work (myofascial release).

Does Degenerative Joint Disease Cause Pain?

Currently, patients are being told a number of different things regarding this topic. Some have been told that their pain is entirely related to degeneration, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Others have been told that they need to be seen one time a week or once every two weeks so that their pain doesn’t get worse. While pain can be related degeneration in severe cases, the literature states that mild to moderate degeneration is likely not the source of pain. The current research actually continues to state that showing a patient their x-rays or MRI’s is not recommended because it decreases their rate of recovery and may prevent recovery altogether.

There have been a couple of studies that have addressed the latter issue. One in particular examined a group of asymptomatic individuals, people that had never had an episode of back pain. They found that 83 percent of these individuals had significant degenerative changes, but they had never had pain. In conclusion, pain can be generated by moderate to severe degeneration; however, people that have pain and mild to moderate degeneration should realize that their pain is likely caused by something other than degeneration. If you or someone you know has been labeled with degenerative joint disease, Team Chiropractic and Rehabilitation would be glad to assess you and offer another opinion. Don’t live with pain when you don’t have to.


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