Effects of Aging on Joints
Decreased proliferation and altered control of apoptosis (programmed cell death) causes a decrease in effective maintenance of tissue homeostasis.
- increased stiffness
- decreased strength
- reduction in water content
Range of movement
Joint range of movement (ROM) decreases with increasing age; passive and active ROM both decrease, but often within a single joint the active ROM reduces more than the passive ROM.
Reduction in ROM is not uniform, and different joints show different degrees of restricted movement, as well as different patterns of directional limitations.
Specific joint ROM changes
Cervical spine - extension and side flexion show the greatest reduction in ROM.
Thoracic and lumbar spine - extension is the most limited movement in older adults and rotation shows little or no age-dependent decline.
Hip - extension ROM has been shown to reduce by 20% when comparing 25 to 39 year olds to 60 to 74 year olds.
Ankle - dorsiflexion ROM is reduced with age.
Upper limb: there is less influence of age on joint ROM (compared to spine and lower limb).
The shoulder complex shows the greatest changes in the upper limb, whereas no age-associated decline in ROM of the elbow or wrist have been noted (in the absence of disease).
Recent Related Research (from Pubmed)
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- Freemont AJ, Hoyland JA: Morphology, mechanisms and pathology of musculoskeletal ageing. J Pathol 211:252-259, 2007
- Yamada K, Healey R, Amiel D, et al: Subchondral bone of the human knee joint in aging and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 10:360-369, 2002
- Bible JE, Simpson AK, Emerson JW, et al: Quantifying the effects of degeneration and other patient factors on lumbar segmental range of motion using multivariate analysis. Spine 33:1793-1799, 2008
- Doriot N, Wang X: Effects of age and gender on maximum voluntary range of motion of the upper body joints. Ergonomics 49:269-281, 2006