Age-Related Changes in Bone and Soft Tissue

  • David Rispler
  • Susan M. Day


The population of the United States is aging – by 2030, the US Census Bureau estimates that 1 in 5 will be 65 or older. The rapid increase in the size of this population is expected to significantly impact orthopaedic practice especially. The aging process, a normal decline in cell, tissue, and organ function, ultimately leads to progressive changes in the physiology of all the components of the musculoskeletal system: bone, cartilage, muscle, ligament, and tendon. Such change can result in several clinical problems for patients and their treating physicians. Among the most common ailments affecting the geriatric patient are fragility fractures, joint degeneration, and injuries to the aging athlete. The risk of fragility fractures increases as patients suffer from diminished bone mass, osteoporosis, and diminished muscle bulk, which results in weakness that can magnify the effects of neurologic degeneration on gait and posture. Another progressive disabling condition is joint degeneration leading to pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. As the baby boomer generation matures, but continues to participate in high-impact activities, patients present to physicians with more overuse injuries and traumatic injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which function to protect our joints and skeleton.


Bone Mineral Density Vertebral Fracture Articular Cartilage Zoledronic Acid Intervertebral Disc 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Michigan State Orthopedic Residency Program, Grand Rapids Orthopedic Residency ProgramGrand RapidsUSA

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