Arthritis and Menopause

As if hot flashes, moodiness, irritability, insomnia and fatigue weren’t enough, now women have to worry about developing osteoarthritis after the onset of menopause. That’s right. New studies have suggested that lower levels of estrogen are to blame for the increased numbers of women experiencing osteoarthritis in their knees.

Osteoarthritis refers to the wear-and tear deterioration of a person’s joints, in this case the knees. Osteoarthritis is a completely separate condition from rheumatoid arthritis, which occurs due to an abnormal response from the immune system. This type of arthritis is not uncommon in women that are elderly or have experienced trauma to a joint in which scar tissue has formed, however it now appears that hormones play a larger role to the development of this condition than previously thought. In one particular study, women between the ages of twenty-six and fifty-four were studied to determine just how impact hormone levels had on the development of osteoarthritis. The findings were remarkable.

The study found that the women who did develop osteoarthritis had consistently lower levels of estrogen circulating in their bodies than those who did not. None of the test subjects were taking hormone replacement therapy during the duration of the study.

Of course, the experts are still out when it comes to how to interpret the results of this study and many more studies will be conducted before any conclusive and usable results are available. Scientists are still hesitant to point the finger at a lack of hormones as the culprit behind osteoarthritis in the knees of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women alone. Other factors including aging, weight gain and other underlying conditions may be at work, making the lower hormone level findings a mere coincidence.

Doctors still advocate maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle as a way to prevent the onset of arthritis in pre-menopausal and perimenopausal women and are not suggesting that following a hormone replacement therapy will influence whether or not they will develop arthritis later in life.

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