All visitors must wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth, regardless of vaccination status. Learn More »

Degenerative Joint Disease

Degenerative joint disease, or joint degeneration, is another name for osteoarthritis. It is known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis because it develops as joints wear down, allowing bones to rub against each other. People with degenerative joint disease often have joint stiffness, pain and swollen joints. It can become so debilitating that daily tasks become difficult.

How it happens

As people age, their bodies tend to get weaker as bones, muscles and joints break down or gradually lose function. When joint tissue rubs against bone for many years, the normal wear and tear can have a negative effect on joints, including joints in the vertebrae. Degeneration of joint tissue often leads to the stiffness and pain so common with osteoarthritis. Arthritis can develop in any joint, but it is most common in the neck and lower back.

Typical treatments for degenerative joint disease

Treatments for osteoarthritis vary depending on the severity of the condition, the location of the joint degeneration, and the extent of disability that the symptoms of the condition cause. Treatment options including taking the “wait and see” approach and doing nothing, administering self-care, seeing a doctor to come up with a treatment plan, trying physical therapy and having orthopedic surgery. 

Osteoarthritis can often be managed effectively with non-surgical options to manage pain and improve joint flexibility. Treatment may consist of taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), using hot and cold compresses on the affected joints, doing low-impact exercise, strengthening the joints, and other non-surgical remedies. Some people get relief by altering their lifestyle. For example, losing weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking can all help reduce symptoms. Alternative medicine, such as massage therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture help some people get relief. Whatever you choose to do, you should work closely with your doctor to ensure you’re not doing anything that could make your condition worse.

If your pain or disability is severe, you may need surgery. Joint surgery can provide lasting relief of symptoms and can greatly improve your quality of life.

Learn more about the different types of arthritis.

Learn about degenerative disc disease.

Long-term prognosis

Osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative condition, so without effective treatment, it will likely continue to get worse throughout your life. However, with treatment, the symptoms can often be managed, and if you choose surgery, you could experience lasting relief. 

Connect with our orthopedic specialists 

At Beaumont, our orthopedic surgeons are breaking new ground and pioneering treatments that improve the lives of patients dealing with osteoarthritis and other orthopedic conditions. Whether you’re seeking help with an existing condition, you would like a diagnosis, or you are looking for help with recovery and rehabilitation, Beaumont joint pain doctors can help. Beaumont has orthopedic specialists who offer the treatments and services you need.

Call us at 800-633-7377 to make an appointment, or request an appointment online.