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Physical therapy for degenerative joint disease

What is degenerative joint disease?

Also known as “osteoarthritis,” degenerative joint disease (DJD) occurs as a result of wear and tear on the cartilage between the joints. The disease can affect any joint — however it is most common in knees, hands, hips, and spine. It’s estimated that more than 50% of adults over the age of 65 suffer from degenerative joint disease.

Degenerative joint disease is associated with pain and discomfort, reduced function and mobility, and weight gain. Over time, these symptoms can lead to further complications and diminished quality of life. DJD is a leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting over 30 million people.

Source: AAPMR

The symptoms of degenerative joint disease

Degenerative joint disease attacks the cartilage which cushions the joints. As this cartilage deteriorates, basic motions become more difficult and painful for DJD sufferers.

Patients with DJD also tend to experience a loss of flexibility, an uncomfortable grating sensation in the affected joint(s), and bone spurs — bone fragments that can form around the joint. The inability to move effectively can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle and associated weight gain, which can lead to further health complications down the line.

The most common symptoms of degenerative joint disease include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of flexibility

Source: MayoClinic

What causes degenerative joint disease?

Degenerative joint disease has long been considered to be caused primarily by wear and tear to the joints over time, but researchers believe other factors, including genetics, also play a role.

Inherited traits, such as collagen underproduction and the FAAH gene, along with other risk factors like weight, injury, and underlying conditions (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis) can cause the cartilage between the joints to wear down faster.

The most common causes of degenerative joint disease include:

  • Genetics
  • Overuse
  • Injury
  • Weight
  • Age

Source: Arthritis Foundation

Physical therapy for degenerative joint disease

Physical therapy has long been established as an effective treatment for degenerative joint disease, and it may even help to slow its progression, possibly preventing the need for surgery.

A physical therapist will typically begin by helping DJD patients to manage their discomfort, reduce pain, and help them find alternate methods of performing daily activities. A physical therapist will seek to design an exercise program that is both safe and accessible for the patient.

Source: Move Forward PT

Luna’s physical therapists treat patients with degenerative joint disease

Luna’s physical therapists are experts in helping patients with degenerative joint disease reduce stress on the joints, improve mobility, and relieve pain. Our licensed PTs can create an exercise and stretching routine that’s safe, healthy, and comfortable for patients suffering from osteoarthritis.

Best of all, with Luna, patients with degenerative joint disease can receive expert physical therapy treatment right in the comfort of their own homes. Improving joint function with physical therapy has never been this convenient. It’s physical therapy, delivered.

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