What is degenerative arthropathy?

Degenerative arthropathy encompasses a set of disorders affecting hyaline cartilage and subchondral bone. There is a hypertrophic growth of all the tissues present or surrounding the affected joints.

Degenerative arthropathy causes pain, inflammation and prevents daily movements from being carried out normally. The cartilage is the tissue responsible for covering the ends of these bones and is essential for the proper functioning of the joint.

Arthrosis causes the deterioration of the articular cartilage causing the bones to wear out and the pain to appear. As the cartilage disappears, the bone reacts and grows on the sides, producing deformation of the joint.

Causes of degenerative arthropathy

Arthrosis is the most frequent joint disease in Spain. It is estimated that more than 7 million Spaniards older than 20 years have osteoarthritis of the knee, hand or spine. Further, This disease is more frequent in women than in men.

The increase in life expectancy and the aging of the population will make the degenerative arthropathy become the fourth cause of disability in the year 2020. The causes are not known exactly that produce osteoarthritis, but there are some risk factors associated with its appearance:

  • Age: increases exponentially after 50 years.
  • Sex: affects mostly women over 50-55 years old.
  • Genetics: It can also be a hereditary disease. In particular, the genetic inheritance in the development of osteoarthritis can reach up to 65 percent.
  • Work activity: the repetition of joint movements can lead, in the long term, to joint overload.
  • Elevated physical activity: elite athletes have a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Menopause: The decrease in estrogen levels that occurs with the arrival of menopause is one of the risk factors for its development.
  • Obesity: it does not seem to participate in the development of osteoarthritis, but it can aggravate it in certain joints such as the knees.
  • Trauma: fractures and injuries can be a triggering factor.

Read also: 6 tips to prevent osteoarthritis from the age of 35


Degenerative arthropathy begins gradually. It affects one or more joints and later evolves into morning stiffness, usually briefly improving with movement.

As the disease progresses, the mobility of the affected joint decreases. For this reason, contractures appear in flexion, painful sensitivity to pressure and feeling of "cracking" in the joint.

Sometimes, mechanical blockages can occur as a result of the presence of osteophytes or of free bodies inside the joint.

Joint pain and inflammation may also appear after long periods of physical inactivity throughout the day. The growth of the bone ends that form the joint it can cause it to deform.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis are very varied and progressive. However, the most frequent are joint pain, limitation of movements, crunches and, in some cases, joint effusion.

The pain that most worries people with degenerative arthropathy is pain. This pain usually ceases with rest. Subsequently, the aggravation of degenerative arthropathy will cause pain to appear both with movement and with rest.

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Treatment of degenerative arthropathy

The main objective of the treatment of degenerative arthropathy, is to relieve pain and functional disability, without causing side effects.

To achieve this, the first step that specialists must take is to teach patients to avoid everything that contributes to injury to the joints. As well It is advised that each person have a personalized and adapted exercise chart.

In the most acute phase, the pain increases because of the inflammation of the affected area. When this occurs, it may be necessary to prescribe anti-inflammatories and / or analgesics to reduce the swelling of the area and thus relieve pain.

Chondroprotective drugs

They are the only ones specific medications to treat degenerative arthropathy. This is because they act directly on the affected joint.

Not only relieve pain and improve mobility, but they have the ability to attack the root disease. Among them are drugs such as chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate and hyaluronic acid.