Is Arthritis a Normal Part of Aging?

Ever wonder if developing an arthritis like osteoarthritis is part of the aging process? Check out what Dr. Klaassen has to say about aging and arthritis.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis means inflammation of your joint. Inflammation can be caused by a variety of different things, including infection, trauma, wear and tear, and inflammatory reactions. The arthritis we normally talk about in orthopedics is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs from wear-and-tear of our joints, genetics, and normal aging.

As we go through our day, we jump, we walk, we run, we get in out of a car, we play ball, we bike, we lift and carry things, and we work. All these things can cause microscopic damage to our joints.  

Think of it like the tread on a tire. As we drive, over time, the tread eventually wears down.

When we’re young, our body’s natural healing abilities can duplicate cells and replenish itself quicker than it does when we’re older. Eventually, because our cell’s ability to duplicate slows down, our joints can wear out. It’s almost like there’s an internal clock in our cells that’s very active, replicating when we’re young, but as we age, the clock starts to slow down and the healing and division of our cells diminishes. This is why it can be common to develop wear-and-tear arthritis later in life. 

This is where genetics become important. Some people are able to continue to do amazing things even as they age. Others’ joints deteriorate at a much earlier age. Some of this is due to genetics and some of this is due to environmental factors such as injury, nutrition, and exposure. We all eventually pay for those injuries we had at a young age. Gradually, our joints start to wear out and we start to experience joint pain. They can become stiff, develop spurs, and develop osteoarthritis.

As this happens, we being to modify our activities. We stop playing basketball and football. Instead we play pickle ball, go for walks or bike rides. We take on less impact, less strenuous activities because our joints just can’t handle what we were once able to do when we were young. Eventually, when the wear becomes painful, patients may begin seeking treatment.

Technology then steps in, giving us ways to resurface the joints with implants. The course of medical treatment for osteoarthritis depends on each person, and can come with associated risks. But, there are options to help return us to the life we want to live, doing the things you want to do with family and friends.

So, yes… developing osteoarthritis can be a natural progression of aging. It varies in terms of when you get it and how badly you get it depends on genetics, injuries, environmental factors, and time. But none of us are spared… just some people progress faster and have a bigger impact on their lives.

Please let us know how useful this article was to you

Thank you for rating this article.

Here's more you can do

Share Your Story

People like you need to hear that they're not alone. Your story can make a difference in their life.
I Want to Share My Story

Be Informed. Be Prepared!

Sign up for personalized article recommendations in your email.
Get Updates

About Us

Learn more about who we are and our mission of helping patients find balance in their lives.
About Us

Find a Doctor

Search by speciality, location and more. Find the right provider for you.
Find a Doctor