Many changes occur in the body as we age. Changes happen amongst the bones, joints and muscles, and two results of this are Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis. Osteoarthritis doesn’t have any genetic link nor it is an autoimmune disease. In a person with Osteoarthritis, the normally very smooth surface at the cartilage of the joints become rougher and therefore making the joint movement more difficult and can be very painful. Some degeneration of the joint happens in everyone as they age so therefore nearly everybody over sixty has some degree of roughening of the cartilage in their joints.
Howe ever the degree of roughening in people does vary as some may only have very mild symptoms. This term ‘Osteoarthritis’ is normally only used when the degradation of the cartilage has become so bad that there is significant pain and loss of mobility. With Osteoarthritis changes occur in the collagen and the glyco-proteins that help to give resilience of the cartilage, so that these gradually break down. Normally the replacement of cartilage is the same as the breakdown however this disruption caused the breakdown to be faster then the replacements.
This results in the loss of cartilage at the joints and surface of the bones along with the reduction in flexibility. It becomes increasingly painful and in extreme cases the movement of the joint is lost. The joints that are most common to Osteoarthritis are those in the hands, knees and hips. Suffers tend to be those who played a lot of sports or dance in their earlier life as this has repeated vigorous bending of the joints such as, the knees.
Another reason for Osteoarthritis is those who have joints that have been twisted, and if people are overweight due to the strain put on the joints. Osteoporosis is also a degenerative disease that results from an imbalance in the normal breakdown and rebuilding of skeletal tissue. However with osteoporosis unlike Osteoarthritis it is the bone that is affected rather than the cartilage. Bone mass is lost as a person ages with the maximum bone mass of a person being at the age of thirty after which it slowly decreases.
The average rate of loss is probably about 7% a year in an adult and tends to be more rapid in women who are past the menopause. The bone density decreases gradually as the rate of the activity of the osteoblasts that builds up bone becomes less than that of the osteoclats that break it down. However this is natural for most people who are going through bone mass lost and does not cause a significant problem. Osteoporosis is used for the condition where decreasing bone mass becomes so great that the bone becomes much more likely to break.
Normal bone density is at least 833 mg cm-3 and when it is less than 648 mg cm-3 that person is suffering from osteoporosis. In most occasions the person does not know they are a sufferer until a bone breaks for example, a sudden strain may cause a limp to fracture or a vertebra to collapse. In order to reduce the chance of getting osteoporosis when you are older is doing regular exercise as growth of the bone responds to the forced that is put on it and therefore you will have a higher bone mass that will take longer to break down in the persons later years.
Diets lacking in calcium or vitamin D can result in poor mineralisation of the bone. Best source of calcium is from dairy products but unfortunately many people avoid eating these foods as they are seen as fattening or likely to increase cholesterol levels. Dieting, which causes their weight to be artificially low, and people who smoke are at risk. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis because their bone mass is less than men throughout their lives.