According to research, the number of Americans with joint pain is rising, and an estimated 15 million and counting suffer from sore joints.

If you are among these numbers, you are probably wondering why your joints hurt, and what you can do.

While joint pain is not entirely reversible, you can take steps to support your joints and minimize joint degeneration and the pain that can come with it. This starts with informing yourself of the underlying reasons why joint pain can occur with age.

If you want to know the reasons why joints can hurt as you get older—as well as the ways in which you cant take good care of them—read on.

Ligaments and Tendons Lose Their Elasticity

One of the primary underlying causes of joint issues and pain is the loss of elasticity that happens in ligaments and tendons as we age.

Tendons are cords of tough connective tissue that are responsible for connecting our muscles to our bones. Ligaments hold our bones and joints together, consisting of thick bands of connective tissue.

Over time, these two types of connective tissue can lose water and the material of which they are made (primarily collagen and elastin) can become disorganized. These factors result in reduced elasticity.

When these fibers lose elasticity, this can impact the functioning of the joints, which in turn can result in pain.

Hormonal Changes Can Increase Elasticity Loss

With age, hormone levels drop, in both men and women. As hormone production slows, this can impact the elasticity of the connective tissue that protects and facilitates movement in our joints.

Both testosterone and estrogen play a role in maintaining the collagen levels within connective tissue. As these hormones naturally decrease, one can lose important collagen stores.

While it is not necessarily wise to artificially influence hormones, what one can do to combat this loss is to take a collagen-rich supplement.

Connective Cartilage and Tissue Can Wear down with Age

Besides losing flexibility, connective tissue and cartilage is also prone to wearing down, or wearing thin, with age.

In its advanced stages, this is what is known as osteoarthritis. Once again, one of the best treatments for this type of connective tissue degeneration is supplementation, with collagen being the star ingredient for alleviating and treating joint pain—as published studies are showing that collagen can effectively reduce pain levels associated with sore joints and osteoarthritis.

Repetitive Exercise or Work Can Lead to Spot Specific Cartilage Wearing

In addition to the natural degeneration that connective tissue undergoes, certain types of activity can place a strain on the body, leading to spot specific cartilage wearing.

The types of exercise or work that can cause this usually include things that require repetitive motion, movements or impact over an extended length of time.

For example, excessive long-distance running is known to be able to cause knee problems in runners. The repetitive motion and impact places ongoing strain on the knees for long periods, resulting in a possible breakdown of joint tissue.

To avoid this, aim for varied low impact exercise that does not strain a particular set of joints. Exercise is one of the top preventative measures for joint problems, so it is important that you do not forego it. However, if you have joint pain, choose joint-friendly forms of exercise such as swimming, pilates, yoga, or cycling.

Cell Regeneration Slows Down

Another reason why joints and their surrounding layers of connective tissue can develop issues is that cell regeneration slows as we age. Impaired cell regeneration means that damage and wear to joints is harder for the body to repair, and the upkeep of joints and connective tissue becomes slower and more difficult for cells to carry out.

To keep cell regeneration at optimum levels, the best policy is to lead an overall healthy lifestyle. By eating healthfully, getting great nutrition, supplementing to increase nutrient levels that might be lacking, getting adequate sleep, exercising, and avoiding toxins you can increase the chances of keeping your cell regenerative process strong.

Nutrient Uptake Can Be Impaired

As we age, it is not uncommon for our digestive tracts to function at a compromised rate. If you suffer from digestive issues, then this could cause you to absorb fewer nutrients than if your digestion was operating at full peak.

In turn, fewer nutrients mean less available building blocks for your joints and cartilage tissues. Impaired nutrition can also impact other areas that influence joint health, such as hormone levels and cell regeneration.

To optimize nutrient intake, you can take care of your gut by eating lots of fiber, ingesting sources of probiotics, such as kefir and yogurt, and leading a healthy overall lifestyle.

Elevated Inflammation Levels Can Make Things Worse

Inflammation can be caused by many things in the body, including age-related health issues. If your joints are impaired then it is likely that this is causing inflammation. However, other secondary sources of inflammation (such as diet, toxins, stress, and age-related immune issues) can contribute to swelling and pain in the area.

To minimize this swelling, and the pain that comes with it, you can try following an anti-inflammation diet.

Now You Know Why Joints Hurt with Age, And What You Can Do About It

Thanks to a few unavoidable factors, such as changes in one’s hormones, connective tissue, and cell regeneration rates, some variations in one’s joint health are to be expected as one gets older.

However, if your joints hurt, it does not mean that there is nothing you can do. By taking supplements to boost your joint health and leading a healthy lifestyle, you can increase your chances of having pain-free joints that allow you to lead an active lifestyle well into your golden years.