Joint pain is the #1 source of pain in older Americans. And while joint pain is something everyone will experience if you live long enough, you can delay it a long, long time if you begin caring for your joints when you’re younger.
According to Dr. Jason Theodosakis, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Healthy joints are something people should think about when they’re still in their 30’s and 40’s, or even younger.
While joint pain manifests itself as we age, the problems actually begin when we are much younger.
In a healthy joint, a slippery tissue known as cartilage covers the ends of bones. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over each other. It also helps absorb shock of movement. As we age, the top layer of cartilage can break down and wear away—allowing the bones to rub together, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion.
The problem is there are no nerve endings in cartilage, so there’s no pain associated with the condition in its early stages. So while conditions for painful joints began in your 30’s 40’s or even younger, you won’t feel the effects for years to come.
So how do you know if you’re at risk?
There are 3 early warning signs:
Leg Lift Test: Hold your leg in front of you and raise your foot, if you feel a crunching in your knee, problems have already begun.
Stiffness: Another early sign is stiffness, or diminished range of motion. That can include stiffness in the morning that eventually goes away.
Deep joint aches: A final early warning sign is a dull ache deep in a joint, not unlike a toothache. Even if it goes away after time, it’s enough of a sign that problems are forming.
Whether or not early warning signs are present, taking an active role in preventing joint problems now can mean a long, healthy life with less pain and discomfort well into your golden years.