Myth #1: Arthritis comes with aging

Submitted by Jennifer Penrose of Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

Once you hit your 40s you find “arthritis” to be a dirty word and you hope it stays clear of you.  However, you also start to realize that aging is occurring and you can definitely feel some of the affects.  You start to understand why there are very few professional athletes playing their sport professionally into their 40s and why Olympic Athletes are so young!

Penrose and associates physical therapy arthritis mythAging does not cause arthritis.  It’s one of the largest myths about aging out there. Most people believe that arthritis is an old person’s disease and that it is entirely a consequence of aging. If that were the case, arthritis would be inevitable — and I am here to tell you that it is not.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Arthritis is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but people of all ages (including children) can be affected. Nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. Arthritis is more common among women (26%) than men (19%) in every age group, and it affects members of all racial and ethnic groups. Arthritis is also more common among adults who are obese than among those who are normal weight or underweight.”

Most People With Arthritis Are Under 65 Years Old!

Penrose and associates physical therapy arthritis questionsOne of the reasons people assume arthritis is an unavoidable consequence of aging is that the risk of developing arthritis increases with age. Yet, as the CDC points out, the majority of people with arthritis are under 65 years old.

Of people 18 to 44 years old, 7.3% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the CDC. Of people who are age 45–64, 30.3% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. In the 65 or older age group, 49.7% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. While the risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age, keep in mind that it is not the only contributing factor.

Now what is true is that aging does affect the musculoskeletal system. Our bones constantly undergo a process of bone absorption and bone formation, known as “remodeling.” As we age, the balance between absorption and formation changes, leading to bone loss if we are not careful with our nutrient and vitamin intake and exercise. Our bones become less dense and more fragile if we are not aware of taking enough Calcium (a variety of forms by the way – more on that later!), Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Magnesium, Boron, & Potassium. We also need to exercise and especially at high enough intensity to stimulate bone density. Our stronger bones and balance class is perfect for this! Call us to find out how you can attend for a free session!

The composition and properties of cartilage (the lining in our joints) change as well. There is less water content in cartilage as we age, reducing its ability to cushion and absorb shock or impact type activities. Hydration is crucial to so many things!  (More on that later!) Cartilage also goes through a degenerative process which is when arthritis can develop. Ligaments and other connective tissues become less elastic and flexible with age. This is why every passing 10 years (or less) your feel stiffer!  Because of the changes that occur within the musculoskeletal system as we age, our joints typically develop a decreased range of motion. If a joint does not get enough range of motion the cartilage does not get enough nutrition and will start to break down.  As cartilage breaks down, joints may become inflamed and painful.

Penrose and associates physical therapy arthritis bearAgain most of the changes are not due to age but due to inactivity!

According to OrthoInfo, a publication of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the changes that occur in our musculoskeletal system are due more to disuse than aging. Fewer than 10% of Americans exercise on a regular basis. People over age 50 are the most sedentary group.

While people tend to have an abundance of reasons why they don’t participate in regular exercise, experts have stated that even a moderate amount of physical activity can be beneficial. Stretching and range of motion exercise helps preserve flexibility and provide nutrition to the joint surfaces. Motion is lotion!  You will feel a difference! Weight training, or strength training as it is also called, can increase muscle mass and build strength. Regular exercise, over the long term, may slow the loss of muscle mass and help keep off an age-related increase in body fat. (More on metabolism and weight management later!) We know that being overweight and obesity increase the risk of osteoarthritis.

A commitment to exercise may counteract some of the effects of aging. You should view exercise as essential, not as optional.    

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have difficulty kneeling down to the floor?
  • Do you have persistent joint pain, at rest or in motion, which has progressively gotten worse over time?
  • Do you have joint stiffness, or inflammation? Is the stiffness worse after sleeping or sitting for long periods?
  • Have you noticed your joints being tender to the touch?
  • Have you experienced loss of range of motion in certain joints?
  • What about a “grating” or “grinding” feeling in your joints?
  • Do you have any redness around a joint?
  • Do you avoid certain movements due to fear of pain?
  • Have you been diagnosed with arthritis, OA or RA?

We see people with those issues all the time!  We have helped many people with those problems and we would love to help you!

Are you interested in a class that will help you stay on target and maintain your independence and mobility?  Do you have arthritis? Do you want to walk further?  Do you want to have more strength so you can do what you WANT to do?  Do you want to be able to put your socks and shoes on better?  Contact us and we can help you figure out which would be best for you.  360-456-1444 or email with your questions.

Classes that we offer:

    1. Stronger Bones and Balance class – great class for building serious muscle strength and bone density (if you don’t work at a high enough intensity you are not increasing bone density!). We guide you through how to do this safely.
    2. Arthritis – knees and back class! Do you want to wake up out of bed with less ache and stiffness? Those achy knees and stiff backs and hips will love this class!
    3. Yoga for osteopenia and osteoporosis class! Do you want to be able to put your socks and shoes on easier?  Do you want to get rid of that rounder upper back posture? This class is based on Dr. Fishman’s study and book “Yoga for Osteoporosis.”  His 10 year study did cause increased bone density for those who did the 12 poses we do in this class. This is also a great class to begin to build some flexibility and improve your posture!  If you are concerned about that rounded upper back then come on out!

visit the Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy website for more information.

Classes located at Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy
1445 Galaxy Drive Suite 301, Lacey

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