Stiffening joints as we age
What are the types of joints and what do they do?
The adult human has 206 bones connected by joints that either provide movement or bind the bones together. Joints can be divided into three types by their structure: fibrous, cartilage and freely moving or synovial joints. Freely moving joints are the most common and include hinge joints (finger and toes), swivel joints (elbows) and ball joints (shoulder and hip joints).
Our joints move when a muscle pulls on a different bone and this is controlled by our nervous system.
Menopausal joint stiffness
Menopausal women may experience aching or stiff joints and this can be caused by several different factors.
Oestrogen plays an important role in maintaining our joint’s connective tissue and lubrication. As the level of this hormone falls during the menopause it can negatively affect the maintenance of the joint. Knees and shoulders, for example, may feel increasingly stiff as the ligaments lose elasticity due to a lack of lubrication.
As a result, menopause can often aggravate the joint tissues which cause irritating aches and pains, which is made worse as oestrogen also helps to prevent such inflammation.
Arthritis pain can also occur in the fingers, pelvis and back. In most cases, this goes away without treatment, but it can afflict some people for many years.
Menopausal women also suffer from an increased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and urinary tract infections. Bone loss can be mitigated by taking the medically recommended amount of vitamin D and calcium from cod liver oil and milk, combined with regular exercise to strengthen the skeleton.
Aging and rigid joints
It is not only menopausal women who suffer from an increased risk of painful joints – stiffness and weaker muscles can also affect both men and women over the age of 50. In some cases, this can start even earlier.
As we age, we may experience painful stiffness or other irritations in the joints. Aside from normal aging processes, these can include conditions resulting from injuries or disease in the neck, back, muscles, joints, tendons or nerves. In many cases, no particular cause of the pain can be detected.
For example, our vertebrae are joined by lateral and facet joints. Like many of our joints, these are connected by cartilage which suffers from wear and tear over our lifetime. This leads to cartilage calcification where the damaged tissue is replaced unevenly by calcium deposits. This triggers osteoarthritis which inflicts stiffness and pain as we move and stretch. As we age, changes in our spine and other joints or bones can result in reduced body height, loss of flexibility and changes in our posture.
Osteoarthritis affects approx. 10-20% of 60-year olds and is detected in approx. 50% of all 65-year olds. Developing osteoarthritis and osteoporosis can increase the risk of fractures from falls with hip and knee joints being particularly susceptible. Even simple movements can cause discomfort and walking may become more and more difficult. Arthritis can also painfully flare up in the finger, thumb and toe joints.
A lack of vitamin D can also aggravate stiff joints. It is recommended that you take the required amount of vitamin D as it helps maintain normal bone structure and supports the immune system.
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Here’s how you can prevent stiff joints
The best option is to avoid developing stiff joints in the first place as prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, if you do suffer from them, there are solutions that can reduce the pain and provide a better quality of life.
Changes to your lifestyle can help to mitigate the pain caused by osteoarthritis and stiff joints. Research shows that high-intensity exercise, a healthy diet and mental activity can help keep aches and pains at bay. Set yourself a realistic exercise program with your body’s condition in mind, and remember that the older you are the more training you will require for the same effect. The best time to start is now!
Here is a list of preventative measures:
- Walking, swimming and general exercise are crucial for maintaining mobility, as is undertaking the exercise correctly. This increases the supply of nutrients to the connective tissues and can counteract cartilage damage and osteoarthritis. Strengthening your muscles can also help to stabilise joints and improve walking. Exercise is essential as we get older!
- Maintain a good posture by strengthening the back, abdomen, shoulders and legs through exercise.
- Regular stretching can also counteract stiffness.
- Take vitamin D daily to stimulate your body absorption of calcium from food. It also helps to maintain a healthy bone and muscle structure in your body.
- Avoid becoming overweight to avoid extra stress on the joints.
Movement is the key to a longer life
Tips on foods you can eat that can have a positive impact on joint pain:
– Oil for salad dressing
- Olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil
– Oil for frying
- Olive oil and rapeseed oil, or margarine
– Fish and Omega – 3
- Fish for dinner at least two to three times a week, especially oily fish
- Fish as a topping for a sandwich, for example.
– Vegetable or fruits: remember 5 times a day
- Beans and lentils
- Unsalted raw nuts and seeds in moderate amounts
- Fresh, canned, frozen and heat-treated fruits and vegetables
– Rough grain and bread products
– Unsweetened cereals
– 3 servings of dairy products daily
– Ginger and turmeric can reduce inflammatory reactions in the body
Foods to avoid if you have joint pain:
– Red meat
– Processed food
– Saturated fat
– Refined flour
– Carbohydrate-rich and refined carbohydrate foods
– Sunflower oil and palm oil
Möller’s Cod liver oil for your joints
Although you can help prevent stiff and sore joints through a balanced diet and exercise, it is prudent to take extra supplements that are targeted to help with joint issues. Möller’s Active and Möller’s Omega – 3 Joints are ideal for maintaining a healthy body and supporting an exercise program. They combine both vitamins and other essential nutrients to help combat the effects of aging on our joints.
Möller’s joints supplements contain a large amount of omega-3, ginger extract, vitamin D and copper. Vitamin D helps to maintain a normal bone and muscle structure and copper helps sustain the connective tissue found in joints.
Read more about how to keep joints in shape here
To ensure that your body has everything it needs to face each day, take a dessert spoon (5 ml) of Möller’s Cod liver oil daily, all year round! With the right amount of vitamins D, A and E, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, you also avoid vitamin deficiency!