Q: What is osteoarthritis?
A: Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a degenerative process affecting the cartilage of a joint. The cartilage breakdown is caused by a variety of factors; age, injury, or over-use. Addressing possible underlying causes like removing chips (cartilage covered bone fragments) from the joint or addressing conformational problems is the first step in the treatment of DJD.
Because DJD is a degenerative process, the damage that has occurred to the cartilage cannot be reversed, so treatment relies on therapies designed to reduce inflammation and pain, and normalize the joint environment as best as possible. These medications include both systemic and local forms. Systemic joint medication can be administered orally, intravenously or intramuscularly, while local medications are injected into the affected joint directly.
By Florien Jenner, DVM, University of Minnesota