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By the time you turn 30, your bone density starts to decline irrespective of your gender. However, in women specially, the loss of bone density accelerates after menopause. As a result, your bones become brittle and fragile. As you age, your bones tend to break easily when you face a traumatic injury.30608
What effects does ageing have on your joints and the spine?
In old age, most of the people experience aching or mild soreness when they climb stairs or stand for a long time. Any changes in the connective tissues or the cartilage affect your joints. The cartilage becomes thinner and the proteoglycans become altered. Consequently, the joints lose their flexibility and become more susceptible to damage. This condition leads to osteoarthritis in many people.
Osteoarthritis- It is a degenerative disorder and the second most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is more common in women than in men. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly 45% of women are affected by osteoarthritis by the age of 55-60.
Normally, the cartilage acts as a cushion to the joints while the synovial fluid lubricates your synovial joints and helps them move more smoothly. Wear and tear of the cartilage lead to inflammation and swelling of the synovium. Moreover, your body reacts to the inflammation by discharging enzymes. These errantly destroy the bone and cartilage, leading to severe joint pain. The most commonly affected areas are the joints of your knees, shoulders, elbows and ankles.
Your spine also gets affected due to a number of factors- everyday stress, constant wear and tear of its structure. As you age, the discs acting as cushions between the vertebrae start to shrink and the moisture content gradually erodes away. As a result of this, the vertebral bones rub against each other, potentially causing stiffness and back pain. The most common form of spinal injury in the elderly is spondylolisthesis.
Spondylolisthesis- This refers to the condition which affects your spinal bones and lower vertebrae. Due to this condition, one of the lower vertebrae slips forward onto the bone directly beneath it. Older people with spondylolisthesis find it difficult to perform routine activities and often encounter symptoms like persistent pain in the lower back and pelvic region, muscle stiffness, etc.
What effects does poor lifestyle have on your spine and joints?
Musculoskeletal disorders in elderly also result from various lifestyle issues. Some of them being-
- Poor diet- Both trans fats and saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and cause inflammation. Since joint pains are usually triggered by inflammation, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can aggravate if you consume fried foods, white flour, sugar and dairy products. Alcohol consumption and smoking can also lead to joint inflammation. Switch to a healthy diet; include fishes that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, citrus fruits, green tea. This also helps you keep your weight in check.
- Inactive lifestyle- While extreme physical exhaustion can lead to sudden injury and pain, an inactive lifestyle can also adversely affect your joints and muscles. They gradually lose their resilience and become stiff and thus immobile. Practice low-key exercises to keep yourself active.
Role of Ayurveda in treating musculoskeletal disorders-
Ayurveda plays a significant role in treating musculoskeletal pain in old age. Ayurvedic Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic treatment program that is used to boost your immune system, detoxify your body and restore balance. Panchakarma uses particular techniques to heal spinal and joint pain effectively in older people- Abhyanga, Upanaha, Kati Vasti, Pindasweda etc.
- Abhyanga- Warm, medicated oil is massaged on your body gently to infiltrate the underlying tissues. This lubricates the joint muscles and helps in toning.
- Upanaha- Herbal medicines are applied on the affected area and covered with medicinal leaves. This helps relieve pain, swelling and improves joint mobility.
- Kati Vasti- For this procedure, a ring of thick dough-like paste filled with medicated oil is placed on your back and left for some time. This helps strengthen your lower back and also lubricates your spine.
- Pindasweda- A hot cotton bag containing rice, herbs, sand or medicinal powder, is used to massage your body. This therapy generates perspiration in your body and allows the heat to penetrate within. This is an effective treatment for arthritis.
Ayurveda uses natural herbs and spices to prepare medicinal oil for therapy. Ayurvedic therapies are safe and a preferred choice of treatment, especially for older people. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!