Joint Health as We Age

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As our bodies change with age, there typically is a lot of strain placed on our joints. Not only do we have the aging process but we also go through changes such as pregnancy strain on our joints, weight loss and gain, daily lifestyle, plus our activity levels. These all play a part in how our joints progress and how much deterioration will happen.

We will start with our daily lifestyle effects on our joints. This encompasses our everyday activities such as how much we walk, sit and stand. Our work life accounts for many hours of our day, do you sit at a desk all day? Maybe you have a very strenuous job lifting repeatedly? Both are very harmful to our joints. If we sit most of our day there is constant pressure through our spine and hip joints. If you tend to have poor posture while at your desk, this will cause constant pressure through your Cervicle Spine which could develop into displaced discs between our vertebrae, and deterioration of the vertebral bodies. Make sure you have a postural assessment of your work space and be as ergonomic as possible to avoid these outcomes. If you have a more manual job and perform activities such as lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, etc, this has more serious effects on the vertebral column if repeated and not performed properly. These activities could result in displaced discs, herniation of a disc, narrowing of a vertebral canal that is vital for nerve paths, and of course deterioration of discs and bones. You always want to make sure you are using proper and safe form while performing these duties. It will make a huge difference in your longevity of your health.

Your activity levels also play a role in how your joints will progress. This includes your workouts, running, walking, yoga, weight lifting, etc. Joint stability is very important when you have an active lifestyle. There are many activities that apply repeated strain to joints, such as running. Your knees and hips can take a lot of impact over time with this activity. As well as playing sports, think of professional athletes and how we often hear about them eventually having to retire due to injuries and wear-and-tear on their bodies. These athletes are pretty young, but have taken their bodies through the extreme strains and they deteriorate at a much quicker rate than the typical person with a typical activity level. Physical activity as we know, is great for our health, but we need to make sure our joints are well protected and we are performing activities within our abilities and safely. If you live an active lifestyle you want to maintain your joint health with regular care such as massage therapy, acupuncture, physiotherapy, and hydro-therapy. Keeping your soft tissue that surround the joints treated is going to make a large impact on how the joint functions and prevent injuries and deterioration.

The aging process is inevitable with joint health. There are many conditions that can develop such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease (DDD), displacement of joints, formations, osteophytes, and bony growths. That being said, it doesn’t always mean the older you are the worse your joints are. If we performed diagnostic imaging on a 22 year old, a 35 year old, a 48 year old and a 70 year old, we would likely find degenerative disc disease in every single person. The level of severity will be the only aspect that is different. As we now know our lifestyle is a large component to how our joints age, so this is dependent on how each of these people lived their life. If the 22 year old plays sports and is in school sitting and studying often, there will be vertebral changes as we discussed. However if this 22 year old treats their body correctly, these changes will be minimal and not cause discomfort or dysfunctions. Joint health is up to how you treat your body through your lifestyle or how much you neglect it.

For conditions such as arthritis and DDD there are many ways you can manage the progression and pain. Therapies that treat the soft tissues again are going to be very beneficial. Many joint conditions can be maintained with a healthy diet as well. Make sure you are working with a Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor to discuss what foods and proper supplements are good and bad for your condition. These can make a very large impact of the progression of your joint health.

Make sure you have a team of health professionals you see on a regular basis to keep your body functioning properly and prevent serious conditions and dysfunctions. Prevention is the best medicine.

 

Originally Published: May 21, 2018

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Dana Goodfellow, RMT, Contributor and D.Ac., Meditation Teacher, Owner – Quinte Mind & Body

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Dana is the owner of Quinte Mind & Body, and has been a practicing Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) for many years in the Belleville area. Through Dana’s love of learning and providing superior results for her patients, she has added modalities from her knowledge of the body and medical treatment. Two modalities are Contemporary Medical Acupuncture and becoming a Certified Meditation Teacher and Facilitator. As a graduate of an advanced course of Massage Therapy at Georgian College, Dana takes great pride in treating patients with many different manual techniques. After a year in practice, Dana received her certification from McMaster University for Contemporary Medical Acupuncture.