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Why Degeneration Happens

Hello Everyone,

What is degeneration? You all have heard the word, but what is it? We hear about spinal degeneration, degeneration of the cartilage of the knees and hips, etc. Degeneration could also be known as arthritis, or more specifically osteo-arthritis. Let's discuss a very simple explanation.

Let's take degeneration of the knee, since that is very common and something that we have all heard of or have someone that is suffering from it. Most of us think about the knee as the upper bone and the lower bone coming together, with the knee joint in the middle. And we think of degeneration, or arthritis, as the cartilage between those bones wearing down, which is correct. But how does it wear down? Most people probably think that the bones, over time, grind together and grind away at the cartilage, causing there to be less cartilage leading to that "bone on bone" phenomena that we all hear about. Not the case!!

Cartilage stays healthy by being bathed in a fluid rich in nutritious materials that saturates all of our bodily tissue, as do all other tissues. And like a sponge the cartilage, like all tissues of the body, absorb the fluid and stay healthy. But if sponge is compressed fully, it has no absorptive capabilities. The cartilage of the body, like that of the knee, can become put under a lot of compression, and the cartilage will loose its ability to absorb the nutritious fluid. When this occurs, the cartilage does not have the "stuff" that it needs to stay healthy and survive, so it literally dies, on small layer at at time. Over time, this causes there to be less cartilage, and therefore leads to that "bone on bone" scenario.

Now what would cause this compression force that would not allow the cartilage to absorb fluid?? The most common is excess body weight. One more reason to get moving and keep you weight down. This type of degeneration occurs very readily in the knees, hips and lower spine, and you can all see now why it occurs there most frequently.

Hope you gained a new insight into arthritis. Please phone me if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Mckim


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