Degenerative joint disease vs. osteoarthritis
Prevalence and pathophysiology
Although the terms degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis are commonly used interchangeably in the veterinary arena, a distinction has been made between the two.1 Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a general term used to describe any degenerative change in a synovial, cartilaginous,
or fibrous articulation in the skeleton. Osteoarthritis, however, is a pathologic change of a diarthrodial synovial articulation
and includes deterioration of articular cartilage, osteophyte formation, bone remodeling, soft tissue changes, and low-grade
nonpurulent inflammation. Not all radiographic changes are correlated with a clinical problem. As veterinarians, we are most
interested in changes that have a negative impact on a cat's life because of pain and discomfort or because the cat can no
longer perform normal functions such as jumping.
Editors' note: Dr. Robertson has received financial support from Boehringer-Ingelheim Vetmedica to conduct workshops for Boehringer-Ingelheim
veterinarians, write one review article, and speak at veterinary continuing education meetings.