According to orthopaedic studies, the incidence of osteoarthritis in men and women increases with age. However, more cases of arthritis are diagnosed in women after the age of 55 than in males. Studies, as well as orthopaedic doctors, stress that the number of women suffering from osteoarthritis after the age of 55 is significantly higher than that of males and increases annually as compared to males.
Reasons for the increasing Osteoarthritis Cases in Women
Although the actual cause of the increasing osteoarthritis cases in women isn’t exactly known, orthopaedic doctors have a number of factors thought to be risk factors. Indeed, some of these factors can be controlled, whereas others can’t be controlled.
Obesity is generally a risk factor for osteoarthritis in both males and females, but studies indicate that many women are obese, hence the higher incidence of osteoarthritis. The extra weight (BMI) exerts more pressure on the joints which triggers the cartilage in the joints to wear away easily and faster. In addition, women past the menopause stage tend to have more belly fat, which automatically puts more pressure on the joints.
Engaging in physical activities such as running, gymnastics, among others tend to preserve the joints, however, women who are full-time housewives and hardly engage in any physical activities have higher chances of suffering from osteoarthritis. There are common beliefs that walking or running are only recommended for adults, but orthopaedic doctors currently stress that the earlier the better. Physical exercises should simply be part of one’s lifestyle right from her youth.
Younger women have higher levels of estrogen and according to scientific studies, this estrogen hormone protects the cartilage found in the joints. However, once menopause strikes, the estrogen levels go down, which leaves the cartilage more prone to inflammation resulting in osteoarthritis.
Although anyone can acquire arthritis, studies osteoarthritis tends to run in families and there happens to be a genetic link in women. Similarly, researchers have discovered that hand and knee osteoarthritis have specific genetic links. One should also note that having a mother who suffered or suffers from osteoarthritis might indicate one’s probability of suffering from the same.
The natural physical structure of a woman is also believed to be a trigger factor for knee osteoarthritis. This is basically because women tend to have wider hips thought to affect the alignment of the knee and also cause uneven stress on them. Meanwhile, orthopaedic doctors are still more focused on finding the factors that cause uneven pressure or stress on the knee that trigger osteoarthritis.
Although more women are knee osteoarthritis victims currently, studies indicate that men are more likely to undergo knee replacement surgery. The active nature of males could be the real reason as to why more are knee replacement candidates than females.
Oral medications, injection, physical therapy, and weight loss are seen as the immediate knee osteoarthritis treatments for females.
Hormonal imbalances, having more children, undergoing hormonal replacement therapy, and starting periods before or at the age of 11 are considered trigger factors for osteoarthritis in females.