Age and Joints

Klaus Bobacz and Ilse-Gerlinde Sunk

During lifetime the joints of the human body are subjected to a number of age-related alterations. These changes may affect all joint structures, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, synovial membrane, or joint capsules, and occur on the biomechanical, molecular, or cellular level. Due to the longevity of the population, joint disorders are among the most prevalent and symptomatic healthcare problems of middle-aged and old people.

This chapter focuses on the effects of aging on the soft tissues of which joints are composed. Generally, alterations comprise a change in tissue cellularity, metabolic cell activity, and extracellular matrix composition. These structure impairments may influence the functionality of the joints and may lead to a decline in mobility, resulting in a loss of independence and finally in a retreat from social life.

Thus it is important to increase the understanding of the age-related changes of joint structures and their relationship to their impairment to potentially maximize the quality of life of affected individuals.

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