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Why Women are More at Risk for Arthritis

Arthritis in Women

Arthritis is a common joint condition where one or more joints become stiff from inflammation which leads to pain that increases as one gets older. While more men find themselves with arthritis before the age of 55, the amount of women dealing with arthritis rises dramatically after 55. Occurance of arthritis also varries based on sex. Most men experience stiffness in the hips while women experience most arthritic pain in the hands or knees.

Why is it that women are at more risk for arthritis? Several factors come into play like genes, biology, hormones, and obesity.

Genetics

You may have heard about how certain physical traits like eye color or hair color are passed down from parent to child. Diseases like arthritis can work the same way. Research shows a strong genetic component for arthritis in women; mothers who develop osteoarthritis tend to have daughters who also develop osteoarthritis around the same age and physical areas. 

Biology

The biological theory is that women’s joints tend to be less stable than men’s, making them more susceptible to injury. This lack of stability stems from the physical developmental difference between men and women. The tendons in a woman’s lower body are more flexible than a man’s, allowing for more movement in the joints. Women’s hips also tend to be wider than their knees, so their legs are not as aligned compared to men's. This lack of alignment can lead to an increase in knee injuries. Researchers also found that women who have given birth are at an increased chance for developing arthritis. 

Hormones

Scientists have studied a possible relationship between estrogen and cartilage, which works as a cushion for the space between our joints and our bones. Lab studies demonstrated how estrogen protects the cartilage from inflammation, but as estrogen levels decrease after menopause, that protection goes away. Since the cartilage is not accustomed to a standard degree of inflammation, it is a greater risk for arthritis development. 

Obesity

Although obesity is a challenge for many people, statistics typically show that women are more likely to qualify as obese. Every extra pound equates to roughly three pounds of pressure to the knees and six pounds of pressure to the hips.

Arthritis treatments vary depending on intensity and location. A pain doctor can not realistically prescribe an effective treatment of pain medication, physical therapy, surgery, or change of lifestyle without knowing the patient’s needs. Pain Specialty Group's medical team has over 50 years of combined experience treating many forms of pain. If you are in the New Hampshire area, contact our office here today to learn how you can improve your arthritis.

Author
Aidan Fisher, Maureen Cassidy Pain Specialty Group

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