Our bodies undergo many changes as we age. One aspect that is significantly affected by aging is joint health. Joints, which are the connections between bones, can develop wear and tear, particularly the protective cartilage that acts as a shock absorber, affecting the gliding movement of joints.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should throw in the towel when it comes to maintaining joint health in your senior years. By becoming proactive about managing orthopedic conditions and staying as healthy as possible, you can reduce pain and stay active.
Here’s a closer look at the effect of aging on joint health and some valuable tips for seniors to effectively manage their joint conditions.
The Effects of Aging on Joint Health
Here are the different factors that contribute to the changes in joint health as we age:
1. Wear and Tear
Over years of use, the cartilage that cushions joints can gradually degenerate, leading to conditions like osteoarthritis. Wear and tear unfortunately cannot be avoided and aging only increases wear and tear on the joints.
2. Muscle Weakness
Weakening muscles surrounding joints can lead to instability and greater strain on the joints, making one more susceptible to orthopedic injuries. We begin losing muscle mass in our 30s, and it accelerates beginning at the age of 65.
Aging is associated with the development of chronic inflammation levels in the body, and inflammation can affect joint health.
Managing Joint Conditions for Seniors
While the effects of aging on joint health are inevitable, there are effective strategies seniors can implement to manage orthopedic conditions that become more common with age.
#1 Stay Active
Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining joint health, and for seniors, low-impact exercises can be effective at getting joints moving and keeping muscles strong. Incorporate strength training exercises into your routine to keep muscles strong and for better support for the joints. Engage in exercises that are gentle on joints, such as yoga, tai chi, and Pilates, which keep you strong and flexible. You can also consult a physical therapist, who can teach you exercises and stretches to improve function and reduce pain.
Keep in mind that exercise may not be appropriate for everyone. Always consult an orthopedic doctor or physical therapist before beginning any new exercises if you are experiencing joint pain.
#2 Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight puts additional strain on joints, especially the weight-bearing hips, knees, and ankles. By keeping a healthy weight, you can lessen the stress placed on your joints.
#3 Maintain Proper Posture
Maintaining good posture reduces stress on joints by maintaining the proper alignment of the spine. Mind your posture when you sit, stand, and exercise, as it can mean the difference between pain and no pain.
#4 Stay Hydrated
Drinking sufficient water helps stimulate the production of synovial fluid and keeps joints lubricated. As to how much water you should drink in a day, consult your doctor.
#5 Eat an Arthritis-Friendly Diet
A diet rich in nutrients, especially those supporting bone and joint health like whole, anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy green vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, lean protein, and products containing calcium and vitamin D, is crucial in maintaining joint health for as long as possible.
Orthopedic Treatment in Catonsville, Columbia, Eldersburg, and Fulton, MD
If you are seeking treatment for an orthopedic condition, the orthopedic surgeons at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland can help you. We are highly experienced in the treatment of seniors with joint issues and are committed to helping you maintain an active lifestyle. The recommendations you receive from our board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons are individualized to you, for your greater benefit.