Joint Pain and Women
Joints are the major body parts that allow the bones of your skeleton to move. These can be shoulders, wrist, elbows, knees, and hips etc. Any discomfort, aches and soreness experienced in these joints is termed as joint pain. It can be a result of an illness or injury or any underlying cause.
A recent study revealed that 7 out of 10 women suffer from joint pain crossing the age of 35 years. It’s not just a problem with Indian women, because women across the Nations having the joint problem.
Why It Happens Mostly to Women? Are Men Spared?
No, men too not spared, but are less likely to have joint pain compared to women, because of strong muscles and less stretching ability. Women are two to eight times more likely than men to have joint pain. Here are some of the common problems that most women encounter:
- Patella or Kneecap Pain
- Meniscus tears
- ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Tears
- MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) Tears
- Overuse Injuries
What Causes Joint Pain in Women?
Joint pain is an unfortunate side effect of ageing. Most women get affected by these joint pains because of their growing age. However, some of the joint pain causes in women are listed here:
A woman who has crossed the age of 45 or 50 invariably undergoes some hormonal changes resulting from the onset of menopause. These hormonal imbalances are one of the most common reasons that most women often experience joint pains frequently.
Joints carry the weight of our bodies. It will be harder for your joints to work properly with more weight. Being overweight keeps you at a risk for developing osteoarthritis resulting in joint pain. Excess weight often puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints and contribute to trouble in other joints.
An osteoarthritis is a common form of Arthritis and women are at higher risk of developing this condition compared to men. This condition occurs when the protective cartilage breaks down resulting in pain. Osteoarthritis symptoms may develop slowly and gradually worsen over time. The symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Bone spurs
- Grating sensation
- Loss of flexibility
- Stiffness of joints
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting your joints. The incidence of this condition is much higher in women than in men. It occurs when the immune system attacks the lining of the membranes surrounding your joint. The symptoms associated with RA include:
- Weight loss
- Joint stiffness
- Warm or swollen or tender joints
Other Autoimmune Diseases
Other Autoimmune Diseases like Lupus, Scleroderma, Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Psoriasis are more prevalent in women than in men. This disorders may weaken your muscle functioning around the joints resulting in joint pain.
Fibromyalgia is considered to be a result of widespread musculoskeletal pain followed by fatigue, mood, memory, and sleep problems. However, the definite cause of this disorder doesn’t exist, because it can be influenced by multiple factors including infections, heredity, physical or emotional trauma.
Other Common Causes of Joint Pain in Women include:
- Lack of proper exercise
- Inflammation of the joint
- Some metabolic disorders and postural deficiencies
- Tumours can also cause joint discomfort
- Inflammation of the cushioning pads around joints
- Gout results in joint pain, especially around the foot joint
- Certain infectious diseases, such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis
- An infection of the bone
- Overuse of a joint
- Side Effects or Allergic Reaction to Medications
- Other bone diseases
When to See a Doctor for Joint Pain?
If your joint pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, tenderness and warmth around the joint, then it’s time to visit a doctor. He may recommend an X-ray or blood test in order to determine the underlying cause of pain and the most appropriate treatment.
Make an appointment with your doctor to seek urgent medical attention, if you notice any of the below-listed symptoms associated with your joint pain:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Inability to function in daily life
- Feeling ill
- Hot or significantly swollen joint
- Sudden numbness
- Burning and/or muscle weakness
Joint Pain Treatment
Joint pain might be an indication of an underlying condition or disease. However, early diagnosis of these underlying cause of joint pain helps to prevent irreversible damage and disability. Treatment is directed towards the underlying cause of joint pain and varies depending on the joint that is affected and the severity you are experiencing.
No matter what kind of joint pain you are experiencing, your orthopaedic doctor works closely with you to improve your quality of life, mobility and range of motion. Your Treatment options include:
Home Remedies for Joint Pains in Women
Minor joint pain can be controlled through home remedies like
- Icing the joint
- Taking warm baths
- Limiting physical activity
- Performing stretching exercises
It is always advised to consult your healthcare provider before using any home remedies because this may sometimes result in some adverse effects. Consult with a herbalist to discuss the threats, if any associated with these remedies.
Over the Counter Medications
Medications can help relieve the pain and swelling of the joints, but the medications causing an allergic reaction or side effects in the form of joint pain should be discontinued. However, women require more standard dose compared to men because the fluctuating hormone levels reduce the amount of medicine circulating in the bloodstream. Your orthopaedic doctor will refer to the proper medications after diagnosing your conditions.
Physical Therapy for Joint Pain
Physical therapy programs can benefit patients with joint pains. Depending on the severity of your condition, your physical therapist recommends a walking aid, brace, or splint that can help you relieve the pain followed by improved functioning. Physical therapy for joint pain focuses on
- Maintaining joint function
- Range of motion
- Strengthening muscles surrounding the joint
- Minimizing joint stiffness
Surgery for Joint Pain
Surgery might be an option if your joint pain is severe and all other conservative treatments failed to provide enough relief. It is one of the most considered ways of eliminating joint pain, correcting the deformities and improving the patient’s mobility.
During this surgery, the diseased or damaged joints will be removed and replaced with artificial implants consisting of titanium, cobalt chrome, stainless steel, ceramic material and polyethene (plastic). These implants are attached to the bone with or without acrylic cement, which allows the bone to grow into the implant.
Joint pain is rarely an emergency and can be successfully managed at home itself. But the consistent joint pain accompanied by joint swelling, redness and bruising needs immediate medical attention. Consult an orthopaedic surgeon who can help you alleviating pain and focus on finding the right treatment system that will work for you.
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