Pain should not stop you from moving!
A passionate sportsman, without being a great athlete, you never miss an opportunity to move. Cycling, running and cross-country skiing are ways for you to keep both, your shape and your morale up.Nevertheless, in recent years, small sores attributable to your active lifestyle such as bursitis are more common and the signs of aging begin to be noticed, especially in the morning. Pain and joint stiffness have become a part of your everyday life, even after a day of rest. Relatives and friends urge you to slow down the pace, even to stop practising these sports which, they say, are the source of your afflictions. “You may be too old to give so much,” say some of them.
Movement is indeed beneficial for the health of cartilage. It helps maintain the flexibility of the joints, strengthen the muscles that support them and relieve pain by releasing endorphins. Large, multi-year studies have shown that running, for less than 30 kilometres a week, is good for the cartilage. Unlike muscles and tissues, cartilage is not irrigated by blood vessels. It feeds on the nutrients found in the synovial fluid: a natural lubricant that also has the role of preventing cartilage deterioration. So, each time the joints are used, the synovial fluid enters the cartilage. Movement therefore contributes to the nourishment and lubrication of the cartilage. However, with age, our body produces less and less collagen, which is a protein present in a large part of our cartilage and ligaments. Aging also has the effect of reducing synovial fluid content of glucosamine and chondroitin, two compounds that help slow cartilage deterioration.
OSTEOARTHRITIS MAY BE THE CAUSEYour joint pain may not be caused by sports, but by osteoarthritis: a disease of the joints resulting from chronic deterioration of the cartilage. This condition also affects all joints, ligaments, bones, muscles and synovial fluid. While some violent or endurance sports can cause abnormal wear and tear leading to osteoarthritis, physical activity as such is not harmful, quite the opposite.
PAIN AND SYMPTOMS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH OSTEOARTHRITISThe symptoms associated with osteoarthritis vary from person to person. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most common:
- Pain in a joint while moving. For example, knee pain when going down the stairs.
- Discomfort in the joint with temperature changes.
- Tenderness in the joint when applying light pressure.
- Stiffness in a joint after a period of inactivity or when waking up. It is normal to be less flexible in the morning. However, this stiffness should not last more than 30 minutes.
- Small outgrowths of bones (osteophytes) appear on the joint.
- A crackling sound is heard during the effort. This occurs mainly in case of osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Redness or swelling of the joint. This symptom is however rarer.