I see many patients with joint mobility and flexibility losses resulting from changes in the tendons and ligaments that comprise complex joints. Adding inflammation and arthritic disease to the mix can make movements that used to be simple and comfortable suddenly painful and rather difficult. What are the effects of aging on our tendons, and how can the symptoms best be managed or decreased?
Rotator cuff tears are the most common tendon tear seen in my practice, and also happens to be the most common tear in orthopedic practices nationwide. Because of declining blood supply as we age, circulation to the tendons decreases. This reduced blood supply impairs the body’s natural ability to repair tissues, making the tendons weaker, more brittle, and significantly vulnerable to tears. If the tendons are injured, they’re also slower to heal.
Along with circulatory factors, injuries to aging tendons (such as rotator cuff tears) can be triggered by repetitive trauma from overuse, sports injuries and even the slow wear and tear caused by daily activities.
Decreasing Your Risk
In order to keep your joints and tendons healthy, it’s important to stay moving! Invest in the long-term health of your joints, muscles and tendons by eating all the right foods and getting adequate exercise. Reducing the risk of painful tendon problems such as tennis elbow, Achilles’ tendon injury or rupture, rotator cuff tears and multiple joint problems is possible as long as you take proactive steps and see an orthopedic surgeon if symptoms become persistent or stop responding to conservative treatments.