Experiencing joint pain is a common issue. But this condition is most common amongst women. According to an estimate there are about 60 million cases of chronic joint pain in India and more than 60% are reported in women. There are numerous reasons for this but the main cause is that their body is governed by hormones and they are susceptible to hormonal changes. Such rapid body changes make them more susceptible to risk. It is important women introspect and make lifestyle modifications at an early stage to ensure that they face the perils of joint pain later.
The common causes of joint pain in women include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematous
- Post Menopausal Osteoporosis
Hormones create havoc:
Hormones such as Estrogen and Progesterone seem to play a key role in causing joint pain in women. Most women experience pain in joints during their menstrual period. If we explain it scientifically there is fall in estrogen level during this and estrogen is believed to be pain protective. Also during pregnancy and parturition there is acute spurt in joint pain and in all these conditions there is decrease in estrogen level and increase in progestrone level. According to literature, arthritis like RA and SLE tends to flare up during pregnancy.
According to a study the brain of females secretes less dopamine compared to males and so less endorphin is secreted among them. These endorphins are supposed to be pain protective. So women also respond poorly to painful stimuli.
Besides these women are more susceptible to osteoarthritis because of their bodily habitus, they are also more prone to obesity, sedentary life style and decreased bone density among them. Women in our country are most often confined to households so they lack exposure to sunlight as well. This leads to decreased Vitamin D levels and so their calcium homeostasis is not maintained causing susceptibility to osteoporosis.
Every female has to go through her post menopausal periods and because of hormonal imbalance, women develop osteoporosis. The symptoms include multiple joint pain, fracture from trivial trauma, forward bending of spine, etc.
How to manage the pain:
Apart from pain suppressive medications women need proper hormone replacement therapy and Regular monitoring of Vitamin D level. Women need to be made aware of these physiological differences they have with men and they need to do proper weight bearing exercises and care of their diet as well. It is also recommended that post the age of 40 if women start developing joint pain, it is best that they consult a specialist – an orthopedician.