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How Does Osteoarthritis Affect Women Differently?

How Does Osteoarthritis Affect Women Differently?

When you hear someone say they have arthritis, they likely have osteoarthritis. Of the over 100 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common, impacting over 32 million adults

It’s known as the “wear-and-tear” arthritis as it occurs when the slippery cushioning substance between the bones of your joint gradually wears down, leaving your bones to rub against each other. The result is pain, inflammation, stiffness, bone damage, and, in the worst cases, decreased flexibility and function.

Although no one is truly safe from osteoarthritis, the disease does seem to favor one gender over the other. Of the millions living with osteoarthritis, more than twice as many women as men are affected. 

Not only do women develop osteoarthritis at a higher rate, but they also tend to get it later in life and experience much more pain than men, as well. 

To understand this disparity, our team of experts at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine dive deeper into female physiology and uncover some of the ways osteoarthritis affects women differently. 

Osteoarthritis and women

Much of the increased risk for osteoarthritis in women stems from physiological factors innate to women. The following are female characteristics that make you more likely to develop osteoarthritis.

Hormones

Estrogen (one of the main female sex hormones) protects your cartilage. When you go through menopause and your estrogen levels plummet, you lose that hormonal protection, and your joints are left vulnerable to osteoarthritis. 

Anatomy

To allow for childbirth, women’s hips are designed to be wider than men’s. The sharper angle formed at the hip joints puts added stress on the knees, creating a knock-kneed appearance and a greater risk for joint deterioration. 

Additionally, women are more at risk for patellofemoral syndrome, which occurs when the patella (kneecap) doesn’t slide over the joint smoothly and rubs against the femur (thigh bone). Wearing high heels exacerbates this condition and spurs the progression of joint damage. 

Weight 

Your joints bear your body weight day in and day out, and that’s part of the reason why they eventually break down. Carrying around extra weight only speeds up this process. 

Unfortunately, women are more prone to obesity than men are, which means they’re putting more stress on their joints throughout their lifetime. Furthermore, menopause can cause additional weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight 

How we can help

If you’re a woman, you may feel like there’s no hope for your joints, but that’s far from true. We offer the best arthritis treatments and have fellowship-trained orthopedic experts on staff. 

Depending on your needs, we may recommend physical therapy, joint injections, and other conservative therapies. If your joint damage is severe, we may recommend joint replacement surgery

What you can do

In combination with our advanced treatments, we also guide you toward healthy lifestyle changes that can help you manage your symptoms and prevent further damage. They include:

Whether you suspect you already have osteoarthritis or you’d like to get more information about how to mitigate your risk, schedule an appointment online or over the phone today to talk with one of our specialists. We’re conveniently located in Carmel, Newburgh, Mt. Kisco, and Fishkill, New York, as well as Danbury, Connecticut.

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