Women are more prone to arthritis than men due to their hormones, genetic predisposition, obesity and biology.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis affecting about 60 percent of women in their knees or hands. Men also experience arthritis but more in their hips. Overall men are advised knee replacement surgery more often than women as they are more active physically. But the real need is when your pain cannot be managed medically, with injections, weight loss, or physical therapy.
- Biologically, women’s bodies are designed to give birth; so the tendons in lower body are more elastic than those of men and this joint stability makes them more prone to injury. Even women’s hips are wider than their knees, so the alignment is not straight, leading to a higher rate of knee injuries, thus osteoarthritis later in life.
- Genetics also plays an important role as far as arthritis is concerned. Research shows that women and their daughters have been found to have osteoarthritis in the same joints at the same age.
- Female hormone (estrogen) has an anti inflammatory effect on the cartilage that acts as a cushion between joints and allows it to move smoothly. During postmenopausal years, they lose this protection thus increasing the risk of developing osteoarthritis even if they are on hormone-replacement therapy (HRT). Other risk factors are early puberty, having more children, taking HRT and giving birth.
- Obesity also plays a major role in osteoarthritis. Due to extra weight, cartilage between the joints wears away faster. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every extra pound gained adds three and six pounds of pressure more to your knees and hips respectively. Postmenopausal women who have more fat in their belly also exerts more pressure to the lower joints. However during pregnancy and postpartum period, joint problems are less seen.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in Women – RA is about three times more in women, occurs at a younger age, is more severe and its response to treatment is poorer than men. If associated with fibromyalgia, symptoms become worse.
Your doctor should know if you cannot walk a short distance without pain. Your symptoms will help determine the right management for you.
To conclude, other than just treatment, you can also keep a healthy weight, have adequate sleep, do regular exercise, rest when you need to, have a balanced diet and take support fro