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These are the effects of normal aging on bone mass:
Changes in posture and gait (walking pattern) are common with aging. Changes in the skin and hair are also common.
People lose bone mass or density as they age, especially women after menopause. The bones lose calcium and other minerals.
The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae. Between each bone is a gel-like cushion (called a disk). The middle of the body (trunk) becomes shorter as the disks gradually lose fluid and become thinner.
Vertebrae also lose some of their mineral content, making each bone thinner. The spinal column becomes curved and compressed (packed together). Bone spurs caused by aging and overall use of the spine may also form on the vertebrae.
The foot arches become less pronounced, contributing to a slight loss of height.
The long bones of the arms and legs are more brittle because of mineral loss, but they do not change length. This makes the arms and legs look longer when compared with the shortened trunk.
The joints become stiffer and less flexible. Fluid in the joints may decrease. The cartilage may begin to rub together and wear away. Minerals may deposit in and around some joints (calcification). This is common in the shoulder.
Hip and knee joints may begin to lose cartilage (degenerative changes). The finger joints lose cartilage and the bones thicken slightly. Finger joint changes are more common in women. These changes may be inherited.
Some joints, such as the ankle, typically change very little with aging.
Lean body mass decreases. This decrease is partly caused by a loss of muscle tissue (atrophy). The speed and amount of muscle changes seem to be caused by genes. Muscle changes often begin in the 20s in men and in the 40s in women.
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