Degenerative Joint Disease

Topics: Osteoarthritis, Knee, Bone Pages: 6 (1730 words) Published: October 11, 2013

Degenerative Joint Disease

Degenerative Joint Disease
Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is also called osteoarthritis. It is a very common disease to both human beings and animals. It is referred to as an inflammatory disorder of the articular cartilage. According to Lipowitz & Newton (1985), DJD typically occurs due to diseases, aging or trauma usually after middle age. It is believed that osteoarthritis have affected animals since their creation. DJD has two classifications; primary and secondary (acute stage). Primary class is when the patient had no disease or trauma prior to acquisition. Secondary DJD is the continuous insult of the joint after disease or trauma. A healthy articular cartilage is white in color, smooth and translucent. During primary arthritis the cartilage changes color to yellow, becomes opaque and the surrounding area becomes softer (Manko, 2012). As the joint degenerates, the soft area cracks and wares out exposing the bone. The bone then begins to change and increase its density and finally affected by osteoarthritis. As the degeneration progresses, the cartilage need repair which is impossible because the cells cannot produce enough sponge-like matrix and therefore cannot repair it. Healing cannot be enhanced because the cartilages do not have blood supply.

Biochemical changes

As the DJD progresses there are microscopic changes in the chemical composition of the cartilage fluids. These changes only occur in the affected cartilage while the normal ones remain intact. The changes include the water content, presents of collagen and proteoglycan ratio. The amount of water increases and become thicker thus reducing exchange within the joint spaces. Studies show that the kind of collagen found in a health cartilage is different from one that has degenerated. An affected cartilage produce type II collagen and considerable amount of type I. There are also changes in the size and orientation of an affected cartilage. As degeneration continues, the contents of proteoglycan decrease proportionally to severity of the disease. There is also a reduction of keratin sulfate and an increase of inchondroitin 4-sulfate in the affected osteoarthritis articular cartilage (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005).

Risk factors of DJD

According to the Commonwealth of Australia (2005), osteoarthritis may be linked with different environmental and behavioral factors. These factors include; age, gender, family history, overweight and obesity, physical activity, muscle weakness, oestrogen level, bone mineral density, nutritional factors among others.

Signs and Symptoms

In most cases, osteoarthritis can be identified in animals in their mid age through their lives. For an animal for example a dog, an early sign can be; difficulty in performing some things or reduction in the physical activities such as jumping, playfulness and long walks. As degeneration continues, the animal stiffness is reduced which is indicated by signs such as: difficulty in climbing furniture and stares, hesitance in jumping, standing up slowly after lying for a while. These signs are indicated differently depending on the types of joints affected. Finally, the animal may be asymptomatic to a point where it refuses to play completely. According to Walker (2005), weather changes like dampness and cold accelerates the condition.

Radiographic Examination

Radiography is one of the diagnostic tools for animals suspected to have DJD. Proper procedures and rules must be observed when undergoing radiography. These include: proper positioning of the patient, sedation of the patient and at least two stand views of the joints affected. Animals may show two types of signs; clinical and radiographic (Manko, 2012). If an animal is free of radiographic changes doesn’t mean it’s free of osteoarthritis. Rather, the diagnostic information found in radiography...

References: Commonwealth of Australia. (2005). Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from: A25711A007AF405/$File/evid4.pdf
Manko, G. (2012). Health prevention. BUDO archives. Vol. 8, issue no. 3
Lipowitz, A.J. & Newton, C.D. (1985). Degenerative joint disease and traumatic arthritis. In C.D. Newton & D.M. Nunamaker, (Eds.), Textbook of small animals orthopaedics. New York: International Veterinary Information Service Retrieve from:
Walker, L. T. (2005). Degenerative joint disease: Arthritis. Retrieved from:
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