Why do our joints seem to wear out so quickly?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Most of us treat our joints like our uncles - we take their worth for granted. But imagine life without them: No turning, no twisting, no bending, no typing, no yoga classes, no craning our necks to gawk at a beautiful passersby, no sex positions involving the back-seat, the ottoman or three shower heads, no running, no playing leap frog, no nothing - except a life of stilt-like or snake-like movements. As soon as our joints start to deteriorate, however, we're well aware of their importance. Maybe you can't lift the bag of dog food anymore, or maybe your knee pops every time you bend down to say your prayers, or maybe your ankles feel as crackly and crumbly as stale pie crust.

Human joints are subject to wear and tear from the minute we start to use them, but for the first few decades of life, our body's repair mechanisms can keep up with the damage. When we begin to feel the effects, it's more likely due to less effective repair and regeneration of what has been worn down rather than just accelerated wear and tear.

And we usually won't feel those effects until after age 40 or so. Why? There are two main reasons. First we didn't start out as a species standing upright (or being able to perform acrobatic sex or dunk from the free-throw line), and because hardly any of our ancestors lasted longer than 40 years, there was never any need for our joints to function beautifully longer than that. Now, of course, that's not the case, and you need those joints to do everything from tie shoes to thumb-type on your smart phone. So joint pain has become a common ailment for human beings - as a result of progress.

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Joint Health

Joint Health

Standing, bending, climbing, walking, running, jumping, lifting a baby -- so many of our daily activities require healthy, functional joints. While some joints (like the knees) provide stability, others (like the wrists, ankles an...

d hips) enable us to move. Learn how to protect your joints from injury and keep your joints healthy for life.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.