Skip to Main Content

Degenerative joint and bone disease

Overview of degenerative joint and bone disease

Degenerative joint and bone disease is another name for osteoarthritis. It’s a chronic process of wear and tear on the joint that progresses with time. It’s also the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 27 million Americans. It can occur in any joint, but most commonly in the knees, hips, lower back, neck, and small joints of the fingers.

Seeing your doctor at Dignity Health when symptoms first start can help slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Find a location near you today to receive personalized treatment for degenerative joint and bone disease.


In osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the bones in the joint gradually wears away. Without the cartilage to cushion the area, bones can rub directly against each other. This causes pain and swelling. The pain tends to be dull and achy, and develops slowly. It’s typical for the pain to be worse in the morning or with inactivity. The joint loosens up with activity, easing the pain a bit. However, overactivity can cause a flare, marked by an increase in pain and other symptoms.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Bump or deformity of the joint
  • Creaking or grinding in the joint with movement
  • Limited range of motion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint instability

Symptoms of degenerative joint and bone disease generally come on slowly over time. Any acute symptoms that seem to be from an injury should be brought to your doctor immediately.


Osteoarthritis is primarily related to age. The wear and tear on your joints that comes with time cause the cartilage at the end of your bones and joints to thin or wear away, leaving a rough edge to rub against your other bones. Osteoarthritis generally develops in people who are middle-aged or older.

Risk factors

Certain risk factors make you more likely to develop osteoarthritis. The main one is aging. Osteoarthritis can start in middle age, but it is most common in people older than 65. Other risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a family history of osteoarthritis
  • Having previous joint injuries
  • Putting chronic stress on your joints from activities, such as sports and some jobs and hobbies

Most risk factors for osteoarthritis are out of your control. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do to delay or slow the onset of osteoarthritis.


While it is not possible to totally prevent osteoarthritis, there are habits that you can incorporate into your life to slow down onset and keep you healthy:

  • Warm up and cool down while playing sports
  • Maintain an active lifestyle while incorporating relaxation time to allow your body to rest
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight to ease the stress on your body

Remaining active will allow your body to increase muscle tone and flexibility, which are vital components to joint health. Low-impact sports such as swimming and walking are great options if your body is not able to handle higher intensity sports.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.