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July 25, 2022

Can your joints wear out from using them?

Joint

Some individuals believe that their joints ultimately wear out like car tyres and that the more they are used, the faster they deteriorate until they must be replaced. But joints don't work like Michelins.

Most likely, this wrong comparison comes from calling osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, "wear and tear" arthritis, which is not right.

When the smooth cartilage that lines a joint deteriorates, osteoarthritis develops. Sometimes this happens after an injury (like a broken bone), but age, family history, obesity, and diseases that cause joint inflammation to last for a long time are more common causes.

  

However, osteoarthritis is not caused by overuse. Given that 90% of people are right-handed, osteoarthritis in their right hands would be far more common if caused by use. However, this is not the case.

What about weight-bearing activities such as running? Shouldn't this pounding eventually affect the knees, ankles, and hips? Again, there is no supporting evidence. Multiple studies have shown that runners over 50 do not have a higher rate of osteoarthritis than non-runners of the same age.

Joints are built for movement, and patients with osteoarthritis are advised to remain active. However, because it is crucial not to place excessive stress on their joints, swimming and cycling are generally recommended.

You cannot, therefore, lose your joints by using them.

Photo by Andres
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