Now that you know about childhood joint development, let’s look at how joints fare during adulthood. By the time you reach the age of 20, you and your joints will have already taken about 35 million steps. That’s equivalent to crossing the United States six times!
Joints Begin to Age
Beyond the daily wear and tear of life, adult joints begin to undergo physical changes that affect their performance. Not only does blood supply to the joints decrease, the joints are also slowly losing the synovial fluid that lubricates them as they move. In the 30s, cartilage begins to show signs of wear. The smooth, tight connective tissue begins to break down and wear away.
Despite the changes, it’s best to include regular strength training and conditioning to keep your joints healthy during adulthood. While knees, hips and shoulders experience great change with age, some joints like the ankles and fingers change very little.
Staying Fluid After 40
Mornings can feel a little stiffer for those over the age of 40. Even those who exercise regularly often begin to feel the effects of osteoarthritis, a common degenerative joint disease. And those carrying extra weight also are putting extra pressure on their aging joints.
The good news? With attention to diet and exercise you can prevent or delay the onset of arthritis. Keep off those extra pounds; eat healthy; and incorporate low-impact exercise to keep joints moving smoothly.
Watch Your Back
Did you know your spine spans from the base of your skull all the way down to your pelvis? The spinal column’s more than 25 bones are kept in alignment by muscles and ligaments. A healthy spine is what allows you to stand, walk upright and twist. Keeping your spine healthy is an important way to live an active life without being troubled by back pain.
One common problem that begins by the age of 50 is narrowing of the spinal column. The change puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and can cause back pin or numbness in legs or buttocks. Thickening cartilage, bone spurs and vertebral deterioration are all common aging issues that compromise spinal health.
Does Pain Equal Joint Replacement?
In many cases, the first treatment for degenerative changes, cartilage loss, bone spurring or arthritis isn’t surgery, says orthopaedic surgeon Leland Stoddard, M.D. “Based on what’s found, the pain can be addressed with conservative treatments such as cortisone or lubrication injections, anti-inflammatories or physical therapy as appropriate,” Dr. Stoddard says.