It seldom happens that you find an old man who possesses the same strength in his bones, muscles, and the joints as he had in his youth. The musculoskeletal system has its own way of progressing with time as compared to the other organs in our body. This system is also less talked about and often ignored until the effects of such ignorance start to show. So let us put some light on this issue here.
Our musculoskeletal system is made up of muscles, bones and joints. The bones come together and form a joint that are helped by muscles, ligaments and tendons to make the joint mobile and stable. Joints are designed to help you move your body and support your weight for different activities.
Age related deterioration:
As we get older, the cartilage present in our joints may start to deteriorate due the normal wear and tear. The protective synovial membranes and synovial fluid in your joints begins to dry up. Because of these changes, bones begin to rub against each other, which can get really painful. Many of the joints become stiff in the morning, or there may be constant aches and pains in some joints. Joints may even swell up sometimes because of extra exertion.
These problems are very common in older people. Usually, these are minor problems, but sometimes joint pains can make it very difficult to carry on day-to-day functions and eventually you may need to have surgery or have that joint replaced.
What it is: Osteoporosis is something that we hear about very frequently these days. In osteoporosis, the bone mass in our body decreases, which leads to fragile bones and increased risk of fractures. The older we get, the more common it is to experience mild soreness of the joints while climbing, walking, or exercising, and our body doesn’t recover as fast as it did before.
Causes of Osteoporosis: Many factors lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Some of these things you cannot control, while many others you can. Here are some of the factors that influence osteoporosis:
Factors that you cannot control:
- Age, the older you get the greater the risk of your developing osteoporosis.
- Gender: The number of women suffering from osteoporosis is much higher as compared to men, also the incidence increases post-menopause.
- Family history: Osteoporosis is also linked to heredity.
Other factors that may be beyond your control:
- Hormones: low estrogen and low testosterone levels can bring on osteoporosis in men and women.
- Low Calcium and vitamin D intake: A diet that is low in calcium and vitamin D makes you more prone to osteoporosis. Smoking cigarettes is not only bad for your lungs but bones as well. Decreased activity levels, lack of exercise, or long-term bed rest can cause weak bones.
The only way to address these issues pertaining to musculoskeletal deterioration is to change your routine habits and inculcate healthy practices.
Lifestyle Changes for healthy bones and joints:
Exercise: Weight bearing exercises should be regularly done as it can help reduce bone loss and stimulate new bone formation. It also makes your muscles stronger which provides your joints the much needed stability.
Diet: Your body cannot produce calcium; a diet rich in calcium is necessary and helps slow down the bone loss. Vitamin D is also equally important as it helps the absorption of calcium by the body.
Foods that are high in calcium are dark green vegetables, beans, dairy products legumes, soybean products, fish, cereals and nuts. It is recommend to consume at least 1000 mg of calcium every day.
Foods that are high in vitamin D include sardines, tuna, eggs and liver. Exposure to sunlight: Regular but moderate exposure to sunlight helps produce vitamin D in the body.
Note: excess sun exposure poses other health risks.
Calcium: If dietary intake of calcium is insufficient, calcium supplements can be taken in order to increase the amount of calcium available in the body. A dosage of 1000 mg per day is enough.
Vitamin D: As Vitamin D is important for the effective absorption of calcium into the bones, vitamin D supplements are usually given along with calcium supplements.
Health of your bones and the joints is an unending topic for discussion. However, an attempt to clear the bare basics on this subject has been made. From this point, it is upto you to use this information for your benefit, to protect yourself from musculoskeletal degeneration and preserve the strength in your bones and joints! Let us hope to see the first generation of 40 year olds with the healthiest bones now, shall we?
Article Credits – Dr. Aniket Jadhav