Understanding Degenerative Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Welcome to arthritistreatmentlab.com, where we’re committed to providing you with the most up-to-date and accurate information on arthritis. In this article, we will be focusing on degenerative arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis affecting millions of people worldwide.

Unlike other types of arthritis, degnerative arthritis is a condition that develops over time, as the cartilage in your joints gradually wears away. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, and it is essential to seek early diagnosis and treatment to manage these symptoms effectively.

What is Degenerative Arthritis?

Degenerative arthritis is a type of arthritis that causes joint degeneration, often resulting in inflammation, pain, and stiffness. It is also referred to as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, or simply wear and tear arthritis.

The main cause of degenerative arthritis is the gradual breakdown of cartilage in the joints, resulting in bones rubbing against each other and causing inflammation. This can be caused by a variety of factors such as aging, genetics, obesity, joint injuries, and repetitive stress on the joints.

Joint Degeneration

As mentioned, joint degeneration occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joint breaks down, causing bones to rub against each other. Over time, this leads to the formation of bony growths called osteophytes and the development of joint inflammation, which causes pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Joint degeneration usually occurs in weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, and spine, but can also affect the hands, feet, and other joints in the body.

While degenerative arthritis is more commonly associated with aging, it can also occur in younger people due to joint injuries or conditions that affect joint health.

“Degenerative arthritis is a common type of arthritis that can cause joint pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, which can be influenced by a variety of factors.”

Symptoms of Degenerative Arthritis

degenerative arthritis

Degnerative arthritis is a condition that affects the joints and can cause a range of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in severity and can impact a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities. Here are some of the most common symptoms of degenerative arthritis:

Symptom Description
Joint Pain One of the most common symptoms of degenerative arthritis is joint pain. This pain can be dull or sharp and may be felt in one or more joints. The pain may be worse in the morning or after periods of rest.
Joint Stiffness Another common symptom of degenerative arthritis is joint stiffness. This stiffness can make it difficult to move the affected joint and may be worse after periods of inactivity. Stiffness can also make it harder to carry out everyday activities, such as writing, turning a doorknob, or buttoning a shirt.
Joint Swelling In some cases, degenerative arthritis can cause joint swelling. This swelling can make the joint appear larger than normal and may be accompanied by redness and warmth in the affected area.
Reduced Mobility Degenerative arthritis can make it harder to move around and carry out everyday activities, such as climbing stairs, walking, or getting up from a chair.
Difficulty Performing Daily Activities As a result of joint pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, people with degenerative arthritis may find it harder to carry out daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, or cooking.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with a doctor. Early detection and treatment can help to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the condition.

Diagnosis of Degenerative Arthritis

Diagnosing degenerative arthritis can be a complicated process that involves multiple methods. Doctors use a combination of physical examination, medical history, and imaging tests to diagnose the condition.

During a physical examination, the doctor will evaluate your joints for signs of degeneration. They may also ask about your medical history, including any family history of arthritis.

Imaging tests are often used to confirm a diagnosis of degenerative arthritis. X-rays can show changes in the bones and cartilage of the affected joint, while MRI scans can provide more detailed images of the joint and surrounding tissues.

In some cases, a joint fluid analysis may also be performed. This involves inserting a needle into the joint to extract fluid for testing. The results can help confirm a diagnosis of degenerative arthritis and rule out other possible conditions.

Diagnosing Degenerative Arthritis in the Early Stages

Early diagnosis of degenerative arthritis is important for effective treatment and symptom management. However, it can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, as symptoms may be mild or non-existent.

If you are at risk for degenerative arthritis, such as due to family history or previous joint injuries, it is important to have regular check-ups and seek medical attention if you experience any joint pain or stiffness.

Your doctor may also recommend regular imaging tests to monitor your joint health and detect any changes that could indicate the development of degenerative arthritis.

Diagnostic Methods for Degenerative Arthritis Pros Cons
Physical examination Non-invasive, can detect signs of joint damage May not be conclusive on its own
Medical history Can identify risk factors and rule out other conditions May not be conclusive on its own
X-rays Can show changes in bone and cartilage of affected joint May not be able to detect early stage changes
MRI scans Can provide more detailed images of joint and surrounding tissues More expensive and time-consuming than x-rays
Joint fluid analysis Can confirm a diagnosis and rule out other conditions Invasive and may cause discomfort

Overall, early detection and diagnosis are crucial for effective treatment of degenerative arthritis. If you are experiencing joint pain or any other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention and discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Treatment Options for Degenerative Arthritis

degenerative arthritis

There are several treatment options available for managing degenerative arthritis, depending on the severity of your condition and your overall health. Your doctor will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that covers your needs and maximizes your quality of life.


There are several medications available for managing the symptoms of degenerative arthritis, including pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids. Your doctor will recommend the best medication for you based on your medical history, symptoms, and overall health. It’s important to take medication as directed and follow up with your doctor regularly to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan if necessary.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help improve mobility, reduce pain, and slow down joint degeneration. A physical therapist can work with you to create an exercise program that’s tailored to your needs and limitations, including strengthening exercises, range-of-motion exercises, and low-impact activities like swimming and cycling. Physical therapy can also help you learn techniques for joint protection and pain management.

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can also help manage the symptoms of degenerative arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress on your joints, while regular exercise can help strengthen your muscles and improve your overall health. Other lifestyle changes include using assistive devices like braces and splints, practicing good posture, and avoiding activities that place excessive stress on your joints.


In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints. The most common type of surgery for degenerative arthritis is joint replacement surgery, in which a damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial one. Other types of surgery may include joint fusion and joint repair. Your doctor will discuss the best surgical options for you based on your medical history, symptoms, and overall health.

Alternative Therapies and Supplements

Some people find relief from degenerative arthritis symptoms through alternative therapies and supplements. Examples include acupuncture, herbal supplements, and massage therapy. While these therapies may not be scientifically proven, some people have reported success in managing their symptoms using these methods. It’s important to discuss any alternative therapies or supplements with your doctor before trying them, as they may not be suitable for everyone.

Managing Symptoms of Degenerative Arthritis

degenerative arthritis

Managing the symptoms of degenerative arthritis can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to reduce pain and improve mobility. Here are some tips:

Joint Protection

Protecting your joints is essential to managing degenerative arthritis. This means avoiding repetitive motions that cause pain and reducing your workload if necessary. You can also use assistive devices like braces, splints, or canes to relieve pressure on joints and reduce pain.


Exercise is an essential part of managing degenerative arthritis. Low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, and cycling can improve joint flexibility, reduce stiffness, and strengthen supportive muscles. It is important to consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program.

Weight Management

Excess weight puts additional stress on joints, which can worsen the symptoms of degenerative arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can alleviate pressure on joints and reduce pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is an effective treatment for managing degenerative arthritis. A trained physical therapist can design an exercise program to improve joint flexibility, reduce pain, and increase mobility. They can also provide useful tips on how to protect your joints during daily activities.


Medication can provide relief from pain and inflammation associated with degenerative arthritis. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be effective. If the pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication.

Alternative Therapies and Supplements

Alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care can provide relief from pain and stiffness associated with degenerative arthritis. Some supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin are also thought to reduce joint pain and stiffness, although their effectiveness is still uncertain.

Managing degenerative arthritis requires ongoing effort and commitment, but with the right strategies and support, it is possible to reduce pain and improve mobility. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist to develop a personalized treatment plan that works for you.

Coping with Degenerative Arthritis

Living with degenerative arthritis can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Here are some tips and advice for coping with the condition:

Emotional Support

It’s important to seek emotional support when dealing with degenerative arthritis. Talk to loved ones about your feelings and concerns, and consider joining a support group where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression.


Self-care is crucial when managing degenerative arthritis. Make sure to prioritize activities that make you feel good, such as taking a warm bath or reading a good book. Don’t push yourself too hard, and listen to your body’s needs. It’s okay to take breaks and rest when you need to.

Physical Activity

Exercise can be a great way to manage symptoms of degenerative arthritis. Consider low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or yoga. Consult with your doctor or a physical therapist to create a safe and effective exercise plan.

Joint Protection

Protecting your joints is key to managing degenerative arthritis. Make sure to use proper body mechanics when lifting and carrying objects, and consider using assistive devices like canes or braces. Avoid high-impact activities and opt for activities that are gentle on your joints.


Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help manage symptoms of degenerative arthritis. Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Consider working with a registered dietitian to create a meal plan tailored to your individual needs.

Mind-Body Techniques

Practicing mind-body techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery can be a helpful way to manage symptoms of degenerative arthritis. These techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety, and may also help reduce pain and improve overall well-being.

Remember, coping with degenerative arthritis is a journey that may have ups and downs. Be kind to yourself, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

Tips for Preventing Degenerative Arthritis

While degenerative arthritis cannot always be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition. Here are some tips for preventing degenerative arthritis:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese puts extra pressure on your joints, which can contribute to joint degeneration over time. Talk to your doctor about achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Stay active: Regular exercise helps to keep your joints flexible and mobile, as well as strengthening your muscles. Low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and walking are good choices.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins provides your body with the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy joints and bones.
  • Protect your joints: If you work in a job that involves repetitive motions or heavy lifting, take frequent breaks and use ergonomic tools to reduce the strain on your joints.
  • Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can contribute to inflammation, which can damage your joints over time. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to keep your body functioning optimally.

By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of developing degenerative arthritis and maintain healthy joints and bones well into your golden years.

FAQ about Degenerative Arthritis

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with degenerative arthritis, you likely have some questions about the condition. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

What is the difference between degenerative arthritis and other types of arthritis?

While degenerative arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis) is the most common type of arthritis, it is different from other types such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Degenerative arthritis is caused by wear and tear on joints over time, while other types of arthritis are caused by an autoimmune response or other factors.

What are the best treatment options for degenerative arthritis?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and individual needs. However, common treatment options for degenerative arthritis include medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes such as weight management and joint protection, and in some cases, surgery.

What are some effective ways to manage the symptoms of degenerative arthritis?

Effective ways to manage symptoms can vary, but some tips include joint protection, regular exercise that is low-impact and tailored to individual abilities, weight management, and the use of assistive devices such as canes or braces. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized plan for managing symptoms.

Can degenerative arthritis be cured?

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for degenerative arthritis. However, with proper treatment and management, it is possible to reduce symptoms and maintain quality of life.

What are some alternative therapies or supplements that may help with degenerative arthritis?

While there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of alternative therapies and supplements for degenerative arthritis, some people have found relief from acupuncture, massage therapy, and the use of supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin. It is important to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new therapies or supplements.

If you have any other questions or concerns about degenerative arthritis, be sure to speak with a healthcare provider. They can provide more information and help you develop a personalized plan for managing the condition.

Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.