Five typical orthopedic issues you may encounter once you reach 40 years old

Be mindful of these prevalent orthopedic conditions that often arise after reaching your forties.

Be mindful of these prevalent orthopedic conditions that often arise after reaching your forties.
5 Common Orthopaedic Problems You Might Experience After Age 40

As we age, our bodies undergo numerous changes that often lead to orthopedic issues. Drawing from my experience as an orthopedic physician, I’ve noticed that hitting the age of 40 is often a turning point where certain problems become more apparent. Understanding what to anticipate can empower individuals to proactively manage their health and seek medical help when necessary. Let’s delve into it as Dr. Syed Imran, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Arthroscopy and Joint Replacement, sheds light on five common orthopedic conditions prevalent among those over 40.

Orthopedic issues tend to become more prevalent after the age of 40

After reaching the milestone of 40, individuals may encounter five typical orthopedic problems.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

The most prevalent type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, resulting from the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the bones. It commonly affects the hands, knees, spine, and hips.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Dr. Imran explains that osteoarthritis has multiple contributing factors. While age plays a significant role, other factors include:

  • Genetics: Some individuals inherit genes that predispose them to osteoarthritis.
  • Joint injuries: Previous injuries like torn cartilage or dislocated joints can elevate the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity: Carrying excess weight adds strain to weight-bearing joints, particularly the knees, hips, and spine, increasing the likelihood of degeneration.

Managing OA

Although there’s no cure for osteoarthritis (OA), a blend of approaches can effectively manage its symptoms:

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can provide relief from pain.
  • Physical therapy: Working with a physical therapist to develop exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected joint can enhance stability and alleviate discomfort.
  • Lifestyle adjustments: Maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active are crucial for symptom reduction and slowing the progression of OA.


Dr. Imran emphasizes, “As we age, bone density decreases, rendering bones more vulnerable to fractures. Osteoporosis predominantly affects postmenopausal women, though men can also develop it. Regular checkups after 40, a diet rich in calcium, weight-bearing exercises, and specific medications can aid in managing and preventing osteoporosis.”

Causes of Osteoporosis:

  • Hormonal Changes: Decreased estrogen levels during menopause in women and diminished testosterone levels in men can contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiency: Inadequate intake or poor absorption of these crucial bone nutrients can weaken bone density.
  • Certain Medications: Prolonged use of corticosteroids or certain antiseizure medications may decrease bone density.


Managing Osteoporosis:

  • Dietary Adjustments: Boost consumption of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods such as dairy products, leafy greens, and fish.
  • Supplementation: If dietary intake is inadequate, consider taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • Physical Activity: Incorporate regular weight-bearing exercises like walking, dancing, or resistance training to enhance bone strength.

Rotator Cuff Tears

“As one ages, the tendons of the rotator cuff may undergo degeneration or damage, often as a result of repetitive overhead movements,” explains Dr. Imran.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Tears:

  • Aging: Natural wear and tear over time can lead to weakening and degeneration of tendons, increasing vulnerability.
  • Repetitive motion: Activities involving overhead movements, such as painting, lifting, or certain sports, can put strain on the rotator cuff.
  • Acute injury: Sudden force or trauma, like a fall on an outstretched arm or lifting heavy objects abruptly, can cause tears.

Management of Rotator Cuff Tears:

  • Rest: Avoid activities that exacerbate pain or strain the shoulder.
  • Cold therapy: Applying ice packs can reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Physical therapy: Engaging in strengthening exercises and stretches can help restore function and alleviate discomfort.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

As time passes, the discs between the vertebrae in our spine may deteriorate, resulting in degenerative disc disease. This condition often manifests as chronic neck or lower back pain, making previously simple tasks like bending or twisting painful. While it’s a natural part of aging, factors such as obesity, smoking, or injury can aggravate it.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease:

  • Natural Aging Process: As the discs lose hydration and elasticity over time, their ability to absorb shock diminishes.
  • Wear and Tear: Routine movements and activities can contribute to disc degeneration.
  • Injuries: Trauma to the spine, whether from a fall or a car accident, can initiate or accelerate disc degeneration.

Managing Degenerative Disc Disease:

  • Physical Therapy: Structured physical therapy programs can help strengthen back muscles and enhance flexibility.
  • Exercise: Engaging in low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or cycling can alleviate pain and promote spinal health.

Tendinitis and Bursitis

Both tendinitis and bursitis are conditions linked to inflammation. Tendinitis affects the tendons, which are fibrous cords connecting muscles to bones, while bursitis involves the bursae, small sacs filled with fluid that cushion bones, tendons, and muscles. Commonly affected areas include the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee. Overuse, injury, and age-related wear and tear are primary causes.

Causes of Tendinitis and Bursitis:

  • Overuse: Repeated movements or activities can strain tendons or irritate bursae.
  • Injury: Direct trauma or sudden, forceful actions can lead to tendon or bursa inflammation.
  • Age: With aging, tendons lose elasticity and bursae become more susceptible to inflammation.

Management of Tendinitis and Bursitis:

  • Rest: Allow the affected area to rest to reduce inflammation and prevent further damage.
  • Ice: Apply ice packs to reduce pain and swelling in the affected area.
  • Compression: Use bandages or braces to provide support to the affected area.

In Conclusion:

Entering our 40s doesn’t guarantee experiencing these orthopedic issues, but understanding them empowers us to take preventive actions and seek timely treatment. Regular check-ups, a balanced diet, appropriate exercise, and attentiveness to our body’s signals can help mitigate the impact of these conditions and ensure an active, pain-free lifestyle for years to come.