Diseases

Degenerative diseases

Degenerative diseases


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Theoretically, all organs and tissue structures can be from one degenerative disease affected, even if in practice corresponding pathological events are observed particularly frequently in the muscle, skeletal and nervous systems. Degeneration is often irreversible.

Definition

“Degenerative diseases” are diseases in which the structure or function of tissue structures and organs is permanently influenced or damaged by the disease process. This may include tissue death (necrosis) or tissue shrinkage (atrophy). However, not every necrosis or atrophy necessarily results in a degenerative disease.

Symptoms

The symptoms of degenerative diseases depend on their localization. For example, if they affect the area of ​​the spine, as is the case with a herniated disc, spondylarthrosis or spinal gliding (spondylolisthesis), back pain and movement restrictions form an essential part of the symptoms. If there is a degenerative change in the area of ​​the kidneys, this can be associated, among other things, with flank pain and problems with urination. Degenerative diseases of the cardiovascular system are often accompanied by changes in blood pressure and symptoms such as dizziness, tiredness and general poor performance. Rapid heartbeat and chest pain or heart pain can also occur here if the heart and surrounding tissue structures are affected by degenerative changes.

Degenerative bone diseases

Degenerative processes can occur on all bones, but structures that are exposed to high loads are particularly often affected. The spine is particularly worth mentioning here. Possible degenerative diseases in this area are, for example, the so-called spondyloarthritis, which includes degenerative changes in the vertebral arch joints, the so-called spinal stenosis, which describes a narrowing of the spinal canal, or the so-called vertebral sliding (degenerative spondylolisthesis). A frequent consequence of the degenerative processes in the area of ​​the spine is the herniated disc. Furthermore, some people suffer from a lateral displacement of the spine (scoliosis), which can be accompanied by degeneration of the vertebral joints and surrounding structures.

In addition to the spine, the large, heavily stressed joints, such as the hip, knee or shoulder, are often affected by degenerative changes. Accordingly, hip pain, knee pain and pain in the shoulder joint are among the possible complaints of degenerative bone diseases. In addition, osteoporosis (bone loss), which is characterized by a decrease in bone density and a corresponding susceptibility to fractures, is also one of the possible degenerative diseases of the bone system. The same applies to osteochondrosis, in which the conversion of cartilage to bone and thus bone growth is impaired. Scheuermann's disease, which is characterized by pronounced incorrect posture due to growth disorders of the spine in adolescence, can also be assigned to this area of ​​degenerative diseases.

Degenerative muscle disorders

From the area of ​​degenerative muscle diseases, for example, the so-called muscular dystrophies should be mentioned, which are characterized by a genetically caused damage to the muscle cells. The result is muscle weakness and possibly muscle wasting. Sometimes there is a complete loss of function of the affected muscles. Other degenerative muscle diseases are the so-called congenital myopathies. These special muscle diseases (myopathies) usually occur at birth or in infancy and toddlers. Muscle weakness is also possible due to mitochondrial myopathy, in which the mini-power plants of the muscle cells (the mitochondria) are disturbed in their function. Degenerative changes in the muscles can also occur as a result of numerous other diseases, although this is not based on an original muscle disease.

Neurodegenerative diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are particularly common in older people, as the nervous system is exposed to multiple impairments and natural aging processes over time. The best known form of neurodegenerative diseases is Alzheimer's disease. This most common variant of dementia is assigned to the so-called tauopathies, in which a conspicuous accumulation of the tau protein can be observed in the brain. Alzheimer's is associated with significant cognitive impairments, ranging from mild forgetfulness in the early stages to complete memory loss later in the course of the disease.

Another well-known neurodegenerative disease is Parkinson's disease, the most striking feature of which is an uncontrolled muscle twitching (tremor). The so-called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is assigned to the degenerative disease of the motor nervous system, is far less common. Damage to the nervous system also results in degenerative changes in the muscles or muscle weakness and possibly muscle loss. The paralysis that occurs causes complaints such as swallowing problems, speech disorders, difficulty walking, waning muscle strength and increasing movement restrictions. The broad spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases also includes a number of other, sometimes extremely rare symptoms, such as

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (and other prion diseases),
  • Huntington's disease (Huntington's chorea),
  • Pick's disease,
  • Motor neuron diseases (MND),
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA),
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Other degenerative diseases

In the broadest sense, degenerative diseases also include atherosclerotic diseases of the cardiovascular system, such as coronary heart disease. The cause is a progressive hardening of the arteries, which in the long term can end in the worst case with a heart attack or stroke. Furthermore, individual tissue structures are increasingly affected by degeneration due to their special nature. This applies, for example, to the retina of the eye. Here there are often degenerative changes in the point of highest visual acuity - the so-called macula. This macular degeneration brings with it a significant reduction in vision.

Diagnosis

In most degenerative diseases, the tissue changes can be determined using modern imaging methods. Therefore, ultrasound, X-rays, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are the most important diagnostic tools here. In the case of neurodegenerative diseases in particular, however, these methods can often make little contribution to diagnosis. Highly specialized investigations are required here. In accordance with the broad spectrum of degenerative diseases, numerous other examination methods can be used in individual cases, ranging from blood tests and urine samples to the taking of a tissue sample (biopsy).

Treatment

A comprehensive description of all treatment approaches against the various degenerative diseases would go far beyond the scope of this section, so that here only a reference is made to the basic goals of the therapy. First of all, the progression of degeneration must be stopped as far as possible. However, this only works to a limited extent in many degenerative diseases. For example, the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or ALS cannot be brought to a standstill to date, but can only be delayed. If there is a possibility of stopping the degeneration with therapeutic agents, then the original structures should be restored. However, the degenerative changes are often irreversible. All in all, it should be noted that the treatment options for degenerative diseases are often rather limited and that healing can only be achieved with a few clinical pictures. The therapy often aims to alleviate the symptoms.

Naturopathy for degenerative diseases

Naturopathy offers comprehensive treatment approaches against the different clinical pictures of degenerative diseases, which have meanwhile also found their way into conventional medicine. Acupuncture and osteopathy deserve special mention here. Physiotherapy in turn plays an important role in the treatment of degenerative muscle and bone diseases. Nutritional therapy is also said to have an extremely positive effect in the treatment of various degenerative symptoms. All in all, the holistic approach of naturopathy to degenerative diseases certainly has some advantages, since possible causes of degeneration in other body regions are also taken into account. Naturopathy can make a significant contribution to therapy for diseases such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis or a herniated disc. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters

Swell:

  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research: Neurodegenerative Diseases: When nerve cells perish (accessed: August 21, 2019), gesundheitsforschung-bmbf.de
  • EU Joint Program - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND): What are Neurodegenerative Diseases? (Accessed: 21.08.2019), neurodegenerationresearch.eu
  • Jena University Hospital: Wear-related spinal disorders (degenerative) (access: 21.08.2019), uniklinikum-jena.de
  • University Hospital RWTH Aachen: Degenerative diseases of the lumbar spine (access: August 21, 2019), ukaachen.de
  • University Hospital RWTH Aachen: Degenerative diseases of the cervical spine (access: August 21, 2019), ukaachen.de

ICD codes for this disease: F00, F03, G25, G30 - G32, M47, M50, M51, M75, M89, etc. ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.


Video: Degenerative Disc Disease DDD Stretches u0026 Exercises - Ask Doctor Jo (November 2022).