Aging - What to expect from your body
By: Aaron Holly MSPT, MTC
Co-Owner of Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.
Clinical Director of Holt Clinic
As we age, there are normal physiologic changes that happen to our body. Each of us ages slightly differently due to everything from genetics to lifestyle choices. I often have patients that feel like they have been given a diagnosis of disease when really they are experiencing some degree of the normal aging process. Some changes in our bodies are obvious, as we can see in the mirror. Aging changes can contribute to wrinkles in our skin as well as thinning, greying, or balding of our hair. We may also start to see “age spots” on our skin. Our posture may stoop, our feet may flatten, and our height will likely decrease.
Other age related changes are not as obvious because we can’t see them without some form of diagnostic imaging such as x-ray or MRI. These changes most commonly are forms of arthritis or wear and tear on our joints. Common findings on MRIs are degenerative discs or bulged discs from normal aging changes and years of wear and tear on our spines. Doctors may tell you that you have degenerative disc disease, which may make you feel like you have an incurable disease or that you are in some way broken. These findings are very common and are not always the cause of one’s episode of back pain. The majority of aging adults with no complaints of regular back pain will show some degree of degenerative discs and disc bulges.
The point being, just because you have been given a diagnosis of arthritis or degenerative disc disease does not mean that you have to succumb to living in pain or sacrifice an active lifestyle.
The best thing we can do for our aging bodies is to be active, perform regular stretching and strengthening activities, and seek help from your physical therapist when you are in pain or feel like your body is not performing as well as it should. Aging is not always easy, but we can learn to manage our aches and pains so that we can enjoy an active lifestyle deep into our old age.