Aging And Joint Pain Problem – Part 1
There is a frequent assumption in most societies, including ours, that joint pain in older people is simply due to their age. Even the elderly accept it. They blame their limitations on their “old joints”. They excuse themselves from things they desire because of the painful ordeal. Eventually, even the simplest of tasks become too daunting. Labels like Christian mothers knee are used to explain the suffering. In a previous era, our elderly were confined to their village hut with a walking stick help for other needs. In this era, that lifestyle has become less acceptable to the elderly.
Fortunately, modern orthopaedics have provided a better understanding on the causes of joint pain and therefore, the treatments. As such, limping, creaking joints, inability to bend, pain, and swelling in joints are not necessarily normal experiences that come with age. They are even more importantly, ailments that are preventable and correctable when better understood. Luckily, medicine has a lot to offer from exercise and alternative supplements, to medications, minimally invasive surgery, and joint replacement. Therefore, older people with pain in their joints should seek expert evaluations and treatment. Modern precision in diagnosis and treatment of joint problems can delay the progression, correct the pain, and restore an active lifestyle.
There are numerous conditions that result in pain in and around joints. The most common of these is arthritis. Others include bursitis, tendonitis, gout, impingement syndromes, neuropathy, and extremely rarely cancer. Due to limitations in space, we will focus on arthritis in this article. The term arthritis, literally means “joint inflammation,” but it is generally used to refer to more than 100 different conditions which affect the joints and may also affect the muscles and other tissues. Osteoarthritisis the most common form of arthritis which happens due to the breakdown of the tissue inside the joints. Rheumatoid arthritisis less common. It is an autoimmune disease and occurs when the immune system, which usually fights infection, attacks the cells that line the joints, making them swollen, stiff, and painful.
Incidences of osteoarthritis certainly increase with age due to simple “wear and tear” on the joints. The older one is, the more they have exposed their joints to lifestyles and injuries that may result in some degeneration with time. However, it is not an inevitable part of aging, because not everyone gets it. We all probably know of an octogenerian in our family or community that has no limp, uses no walking sticks and can go up and down the stairs with ease. We may also know of someone as young as thirty who needs major joint surgery. Clearly, age is not a singular reason for joint failure. It is multifactorial.
…To Be Continued
By Dr. Aham Onyike