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Understanding Cartilage, Joints, and the Aging Process | Stem Cell, PRP, Acupuncture in Queens & Long Island, New York

Understanding Cartilage, Joints, and the Aging Process
Understanding Cartilage, Joints, and the Aging Process

 

What is osteoarthritis?

A lifetime of walking, exercising, and moving can take a toll on your cartilage — the smooth, rubbery connective tissue covering the ends of bones. The degeneration of cartilage can cause chronic inflammation in the joints, which may lead to arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. OA is also known as degenerative joint disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 30 million adults in the United States have OA. That makes OA one of the leading causes of disability in adults.

The structure of a joint

Cartilage cushions joints and helps them move smoothly and easily. A membrane called the synovium produces a thick fluid that helps keep the cartilage healthy. The synovium can become inflamed and thickened as wear and tear on the cartilage occurs. This may lead to inflammation, which produces extra fluid within the joint, resulting in swelling—and possibly the development of OA.

The joints most commonly affected by OA are:

  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Spine
  • Hips
  • Knees

As cartilage further deteriorates, adjacent bones may not have sufficient lubrication from the synovial fluid and cushioning from the cartilage. Once bone surfaces come in direct contact with each other, it results in additional pain and inflammation to the surrounding tissues.

As bones continually scrape together, they can become thicker and begin growing osteophyte, or bone spurs.

The aging body

The older you get, the more common it is to experience mild soreness or aching when you stand, climb stairs, or exercise. The body doesn’t recover as quickly as it did in younger years.

Also, cartilage naturally deteriorates, which can cause soreness. The smooth tissue that cushions joints and helps them move more easily disappears with age. The body’s natural shock absorbers are wearing out. So you begin feeling more of the physical toll your body.

You also lose muscle tone and bone strength the older you get. That can make physically demanding tasks more difficult and taxing on the body.

Risk factors of OA

A common risk factor for developing OA is age. Most people with OA are over the age of 55. Other factors increase a person’s chances of developing the disease. These include:

1. Weight

Being overweight puts additional stress on joints, cartilage, and bones, especially in the knees and hips. It also means you’re less likely to be physically active. Regular physical activity, like a daily walk, can greatly reduce the likelihood of developing OA.

2. Family history

Genetics may make a person more likely to develop OA. If you have family members with the disease, you may be at an increased risk of developing OA.

3. Sex

Before age 45, men are more likely to develop OA. After 50, women are more likely to develop OA than men. The likelihood of developing OA in both sexes becomes almost even around age 80.

4. Occupation

Certain occupations increase a person’s risk for developing OA, such as:

  • Construction
  • Farming
  • Cleaning
  • Retail

People in these occupations use their bodies more vigorously as part of their job. This means more wear and tear on their joints, causing more inflammation.

Younger, more active people can also develop OA. However, it’s often the result of a trauma, like a sports injury or accident. A history of physical injuries or accidents can increase a person’s chance of later developing OA.

Precision Pain Care and Rehabilitation has two convenient locations in the Richmond Hill – Queens and New Hyde Park – Long Island. Call the Richmond Hill office at (718) 215-1888, or (516) 419-4480 for Long Island office, to arrange an appointment with our Interventional Pain Management Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Chacko.

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