How to Manage Bone + Joint Health

By July 7, 2015Aging in Place

For some people, aging comes with a bit of pain. A large part of the pain that older people experience is from the bones and joints. Natural changes that occur during the aging process are fairly “norma,” resulting simply from a lifetime of living. Fortunately, for many, a good deal of this pain can be managed or even reduced with some lifestyle changes.

Why do the bones and joints cause pain as we age?

The answer is complex. The bones provide structure to the body but in order to move, we need the muscles. When the muscles move, we need cartilage and connective tissue to protect the bones from grating against one another. In addition, we need the brain to tell our bodies what to do.

So movement involves bones, muscles, connective tissue, and the nervous system. All of these systems take a hit as we age. The bones may become porous and brittle and may break more easily. Muscles may become weak due to inactivity. Connective tissue, including the lining that protects the joints may degrade or “wear out” and some people also experience movement disorders.
The aging process affects every part of the movement system and the degradation, compression and inactivity can result in pain upon movement. In severe cases, it can even cause pain during inactivity, making it more difficult to move and maintain strength.

Prevention is the first step

We can help prevent or slow the aging process when it comes to our joints and bones. Both men and women can experience osteoporosis and taking a Calcium and Vitamin D supplement can help to maintain bone density.

Some research shows that a supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin can help preserve connective tissue in the joints. Some glucosamine products are made from shellfish and should be avoided by those with seafood allergies but others may be safe. Care should be taken to read the label to ensure that no seafood was used in the manufacture of the supplement.
It’s never too late to start exercising. Weight-bearing exercise which puts mild stress on the bones can also help the bones to stay strong and cardiovascular exercise can help to improve blood supply to the bones, muscles and brain, which can increase the oxygen and nutrient supply to those tissues.

Exercise can also reduce the risk of falls, which is one of the biggest contributors to bone fracture and disability. In addition, medical attention may be warranted for any movement disorders or conditions which cause dizziness or increase the chance of a fall.

Any changes in supplements should be overseen by a medical practitioner and you should talk to your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough for exercise. They may have additional advice to help ease your pain and prevent it from getting worse.

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