Why Is Arthritis More Common In Women?
Arthritis is more common in women than it is in men. Discover why women are more susceptible to the arthritic conditions.
Of the almost 27 million Americans with osteoarthritis, about 60 percent of them are women—and the risk of osteoarthritis shifts with age. Until age 55, more men are affected, but after age 55, the number of women with the condition surpasses the number of men. Gender also determines which joints tend to be affected by osteoarthritis. It is more common for men to experience arthritis in their hips. In women, arthritis tends to affect the hands or knees.
Thumb arthritis is more common in women, and can be very disabling. Women are more susceptible to thumb arthritis than men for a number of reasons:
- Genetics. Osteoarthritis seems to run in families, and researchers have found specific genetic links among women for hand and knee osteoarthritis.
- Hormones. Research suggests that female hormones have an effect on the cushioning cartilage that sits between the bones of the joints to allow smooth joint movement. Although the female hormone estrogen protects cartilage from inflammation, women lose that protection after menopause when estrogen levels drop.
- Joint stability. Women’s joints are more lax than men’s—the bones move around more and are less stable within the joint. When joints have less stability, they are more prone to injury, and injuries can lead to arthritis.
When the bones move to the extremes of the joint they are going beyond the point that the joint is meant to move. This damages the cartilage, and can trigger the development of arthritis.
Some people cope with the pain of arthritis for years because they don’t realize that there are treatments that can help. It is important to talk with your doctor about your level of pain and how often you experience it. Arthritis progresses over time, but we have treatments that can make this progression less painful for our patients.
When to seek treatment for your arthritis
Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of only two surgery centers nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More resources for you
Ask the Expert: Arthritis Video Series
Ask the Expert: Sports Medicine Video Series
Knuckle cracking: it’s a habit that is satisfying to some and annoying to others. But can it lead to the development of arthritis?