Our body is constantly renewing itself. To stay beautiful, you have to renew your joints. From the minute we start using them, our joints are subject to wear and tear.
For the first few decades of life, our body can repair the damage. Let’s take a look inside your joints...
Joints are made of bone, synovial fluid, muscles, cartilage and ligaments. They’re designed to move the body and bear weight. Here’s how the different parts function.
Collagen: A type of tissue that serves as scaffolding upon which everything else is build.
Tendons: Collagen fibers that attach muscles to bones.
Ligaments: Soft tissues connecting bone to bone. Joints with few or weak ligaments allow more movement, like the shoulder. Joints with more supporting structures are more stable but have a smaller range of motion (sacroiliac joint).
Cartilage: It gives us form before our bones are mineralized after birth. This continues to give structure to our nose and ears. It serves as the glistening plate of soft tissue at the end of bones, which prevents bone-on-bone clanking.
Articular cartilage between bones acts as the body’s shock absorber. This does not have it’s own blood supply, so it needs to get nutrients from the surrounding synovial fluid.The meniscus is the key shock absorber in the knee. It’s a kind of cartilage that’s particularly vulnerable to injury.
Synovial Fluid: The surface of the bones that touch each other are covered in articular cartilage. They’re also bathed in the “joint oil” called synovial fluid. This fluid should be pure as spring water and the articular cartilage, smooth.
Chondrocytes are cells in the articular cartilage, which help repair and regenerate the wearing cartilage. Glucosamine (synthesized in the body from glucose) provides the building blocks for chondrocytes to repair the damage. This affects the rate of breakdown of the cartilage.
Your body balances putting new fluid in with getting rid of the old fluid. If a joint becomes injured or inflamed from wear and tear, you can produce too much synovial fluid. This leads to painful swelling.
As we age, we produce less of this fluid and the cartilage breaks down. This can leads to painful bone grinding because of the loss of shock absorbers. Your knees have two shock absorbers that for a C shape. The medial and lateral menisci should be plump like grapes, not dried out like raisins.
With time, your joints can take a beating from many things. You can run too much, weigh too much, play too many contact sports. Nevertheless, don’t give up on exercise. Muscles suspend the bones in joints. This way the bones don’t touch and there’s less pressure on the joint.
When muscles weaken, joints deteriorate and bones lose an ability to slide smoothly. They end up rubbing against each other like stick on stick. When you’re in pain, you hobble and make your muscles weaken. When you start moving again, the ability of your muscles to suspend your bones is lost. You feel bone hit bone with only a thin Teflon cartilage in between. That process triggers painful inflammation, which can make walking tough.
Joint deterioration, or osteoarthritis, affects 40 million Americans. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, including your hands, hips and spine. There’s a prevalence of joint deterioration in the knees. We rely on them everywhere we go.
For relief, you can pop aspirin or absorb the pain reliever via your skin. It comes in many forms, such as wintergreen oil and methyl salicylate ointment. Ointment sneaks up on you fast. It’s readily absorbed when you slather it on and can relieve pain quickly. At the same time, it can reach very high levels quickly. More than a few poisons are reported yearly from it. While topical ointments are beneficial, apply only as directed. The ointments can help you avoid the gastrointestinal distress from taking aspirin orally.
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