Just Like Everything Else, Our Bones Change With Age

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As we age, it’s normal to notice small changes. A few more wrinkles. A little gray hair. But most of us don’t realize the effect aging has on our skeletal systems.

How Bones Change

The body naturally removes old bone and replaces it with new bone. When you are young, bone is replaced much more quickly than it is lost. This is when you are building stronger and denser bones. Around age 30, most people reach their peak bone mass.

After reaching peak bone mass, your body replaces about as much as it loses for a while. But around age 40, less bone is replaced. And this causes the bones to become thinner and weaker, increasing the risk for osteoporosis.

How Joints Change

Your joints are also living, active tissues that can change over time. Loss of water content as well as normal wear and tear can take its toll on the joints, breaking down the top layer of cartilage. This slippery tissue is important. It covers the ends of the bones in joints, helping them glide easily and absorb the shock of movement. When the cartilage wears away too much, osteoarthritis occurs.

Turning Back the Clock

Aging is inevitable but not all age-related joint problems are unavoidable, according to Eileen Kuet, M.D., who practices family medicine at Henry Ford Health System.

“One that is not a natural part of aging, but often occurs with age, is inactivity. As we get older, we begin to taper off our exercise. But it’s important to remember that inactivity can stiffen our joints, not to mention weaken our muscles. Exercising regularly, especially weight-bearing exercises such as walking, improves bone health and prevents osteoporosis. Those who remain active are rewarded with better bone and joint health,” explains Dr. Kuet.

There are many things you can do to boost your bone and joint health as you age, preventing or delaying problems. Dr. Kuet recommends these tips:

  • Ask your doctor whether medication may be affecting your skeleton. A number of drugs contribute to bone loss, including some long-term anti-seizure drugs, certain cancer treatments, and glucocorticoids, which are used to treat many diseases, such as asthma, Crohn’s disease and lupus.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity keeps your joints more flexible and can minimize bone loss as well as help you maintain muscle mass, which strengthens surrounding bone and helps prevent falls.
  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients are essential for building and maintaining strong bones. Your doctor can tell you how much you need.
  • Keep your weight at a normal level. Carrying too much weight puts stress on the joints and can lead to increased wear and tear and greater risk for osteoarthritis.


To find a doctor or make an appointment at Henry Ford, call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936) or visit henryford.com.

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Dr. Eileen Kuet sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Novi. To make an appointment or find a doctor near you, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Categories: FeelWell