The Most Common Orthopedic Conditions To Watch Out For As You Age
As we age, our bodies go through many changes inside and out. These biological changes that occur in our elder population can lead to a variety of orthopedic injuries. It is important to stay on top of your health and seeing an orthopedic doctor or surgeon can help you live a longer happier life. Many of these issues are due to problems once thought to be inevitable with aging. However, they are actually due to chronic inflammation, advanced glycation end products and oxidative stress; all of which are modifiable and preventable. Nevertheless, here is a short list of possible problems you might experience.
According to the CDC, at least 1 in every 3 older adults will develop osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is defined by the degeneration of cartilage in joints, especially in the hands, ankles, knees, and spine. Cartilage joints cushion the ends of the bones. Cartilage does not contain any nerves so the pain experienced with Osteoarthritis originates in the bones and the surrounding connective tissues, nerves and muscles. There is no cure for osteoarthritis.
Regenerative treatments like PRP injections and stem cell therapy may be able to help repair lost cartilage. These are being studied but they are not currently accepted by the Federal Government.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative condition where normal bone regeneration decreases and is no longer able to keep up with old bone absorption. Bones become porous and brittle. At 30 years old, bone mass is at its peak and slowly begins decreasing with age. Those with osteoporosis are at a greater risk of sudden, pain fractures. Most fractures occur in the hips, wrists, and spine.
Osteoporosis happens to both men and women, but women develop this earlier due to hormonal issues.
As you grow older bone mineral density decreases especially in post-menopausal women. This also makes bones weaker and more brittle. Along with an increase in balance and vision impairment, bone fracture occurrences tend to increase.
Strength training can help increase bone strength and decrease the likelihood of fracturing a bone. Balance work is also very helpful.
In the same vein as fractures, joint dislocations are also very common with the increased balance and vision impairments seen in older adults. Dislocated joints can be very painful until relocated. Dislocations occur when a joint shifts out of its original position and becomes immobilized in the unnatural position.
The most common areas to experience a dislocation are the shoulder, knees, elbow, and hips.
Ligament and tendon problems
Connective tissues become stiffer and less compliant with age. This means that they can be prone to tearing. Usually what happens however is that a condition called ‘tendinosis’ develops. There is a similar biologic pathway that happens in all connective tissues in the body from the rotator cuff to the spinal disc. The collagen bundles become disorganized, develop areas of abnormal tissue, grow too many stiff crosslinks and become less able to acclimate to activity.
Therefore, ligaments, discs and tendons will become painful and even tear. Recovery and healing is still possible but may take a bit longer than one would like.
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Are you worried about developing any of these conditions? Are you already suffering from one or more? Schedule an appointment with Warner Orthopedics & Wellness today for an evaluation and to discuss treatment options with Dr. Warner and her dedicated team!