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Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)

What is degenerative joint disease?

DJD is more commonly known as arthritis. This is a progressive, non-infectious condition of the weight-bearing joints. Normal, healthy joint cartilage is smooth, white and translucent. It consists of cartilage cells, protein, water, and collagen that forms a sponge-like middle. In the early stages of arthritis, the cartilage becomes yellow, opaque, and softens to create a rough joint surface. As the disease progresses, the soft areas become worn and expose the hard bone underneath, causing remodeling. This progression leads to osteophytes (bone spurs) in the joint and a decreased blood supply that inhibits cartilage repair. DJD can be caused by aging changes in a joint or by a mechanical instability. Mechanical instabilities are most often the result of joint abnormalities (such as hip or elbow dysplasia), trauma, or wear from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, luxating patella, or osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).