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Most Common Injuries for Adults Over 40

Bones losing mass is one reason why those aged 40 and above are more prone to injury. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, most people, men and women alike, reach peak bone mass between the ages of 25-30. Starting at age 40, we begin to lose bone faster than we can replace it. Less dense bones are more fragile which leads to more frequent fractures such as stress fractures, crush fractures in the vertebrae, and hip fractures. Specifically, women are at a higher risk for developing bone-related conditions like osteoporosis 

Like bones, muscles lose mass as you age. According to the National Institutes of Health, muscle fibers begin to diminish in number and size starting in our late 30s. The process continues to accelerate with age, especially in sedentary people. Smaller weaker muscles are more likely to sustain injury especially if you make big changes in your activity level as opposed to a more gradual build-up  

Another cause for increased injury in your forties is that cartilage and tendons become drier. As we age, the cartilage that cushions our bones and joints starts to hold less water. Then, as the cartilage begins to rub away, bone grinds against bone, which can subsequently lead to osteoarthritis and inflammation. Tendons also become drier and stiffer, which can make them more vulnerable to tear or rupture when overstretched.  

Additionally, ligaments are less elastic. As we age, ligaments become less flexible. Similar to aging tendons, aging ligaments are more likely to sustain damage when pushed past a certain point. For example, healing from a sprained ankle takes longer when you get older 

Finally, some people’s bodies just age sooner and they are at increased risk of suffering injuries. There is no set age at which bone, cartilage, tendon, and ligaments begin to degenerate. Even teens and young people in their 20s can experience arthritis symptoms due to a traumatic sports injury or obesity. On the other hand, some people can continue to do activities into their 80s without suffering an injury or being in chronic pain. 

5 Most Common Injuries in People Over 40

  • Tennis Elbow: overuse injury that affects tendons on the outside of the elbow joint. Can be a sports injury but also can be caused by other activities 
  • Stress Fractures: Thin hairline fractures caused by repetitive impact force and overuse. Most common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot 
  • Lower Back Problems: Many people (especially men) develop back problems in their 40’s, due to a combination of risk factors including a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, arthritis, and loss of bone density 
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries and Bicep Tendon Injuries: Over time, normal wear and tear in the shoulder weakens the dominant shoulder, especially in people who perform frequent tasks that require overhead motions.
  • ACL and Meniscus Tears: Age-related tissue degeneration makes the knee joint particularly susceptible to injury. If you put on extra weight as you have gotten older, you can become more at risk for ACL/meniscus injuries. 2-10 times more common in females      
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