Why Are Women at Higher Risk of Inflammatory Joint Pain? – The Daily Connection

Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and is more common in women than in men. Here’s why



Published: October 12, 2023 6:08 PM IST


By IANS

| Edited by Onam Gupta

World Arthritis Day 2023: Why Are Women at Higher Risk of Inflammatory Joint Pain?
World Arthritis Day 2023: Why Are Women at Higher Risk of Inflammatory Joint Pain?

More than 60 per cent or one in six of all arthritis patients are women, said doctors on Thursday on the occasion of World Arthritis Day. Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and is more common in women than in men. One in three women over 60 years old in India has arthritis. Young women even in their 20s and 30s are at high risk of developing arthritis. Young women living with arthritis often face immense challenges. They experience severe pain and stiffness in their joints, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities like walking, standing, or even holding a pen. This pain can be so severe that it affects their quality of life, limiting their ability to work, socialise, and enjoy their hobbies.

Causes

”A large number of young women tend to experience severe pain due to arthritis. While it is commonly thought of as an old person’s disease, arthritis affects more women than men across all age groups. Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory arthritis in the younger generation is quite common now. More than 60 per cent of such patients, visiting the OPD, are usually women,” Dr Dhananjay Parab, Orthopedic and Knee Replacement Surgeon, Zynova Shalby Hospital, told IANS.

Importantly, the doctor said seven out of 10 knee replacement patients are also women. This shows that the problem of arthritis among women is increasing. The reasons behind the higher prevalence of arthritis in women are still not completely understood, but researchers believe that a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors may play a role. Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, could contribute to the development or worsening of arthritis symptoms in women.

Signs And Symptoms

“Oestrogen, which is present in higher levels in women, can contribute to joint inflammation and increase the risk of developing arthritis,” Parab said. In addition to genetic factors, lifestyle factors such as obesity and sedentary behaviour can exacerbate symptoms and lead to earlier onset of arthritis in young women, he said.

“The impact of arthritis on young women should not be underestimated; it goes far beyond the physical pain alone. Many young women face challenges while doing daily activities or starting families due to this debilitating condition. These limitations not only affect their personal lives but also have long-term implications for their mental health. Early intervention and lifestyle modifications inclusive of a well-balanced diet, exercise, and stress-management techniques such as yoga and meditation can help to manage symptoms while minimizing long-term damage to joints,” Dr Parab said.

Treatment

A key factor to address in managing arthritis in women is early diagnosis and treatment, the doctors said.“Recognising the symptoms and seeking medical advice as soon as possible can make a significant difference in managing the condition and improving the quality of life. Effective treatments, including medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes, can help women with arthritis lead fulfilling lives despite the challenges they face,” Dr Jeet Savla, Orthopedic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Mumbai, told IANS.

It’s essential for women to be aware of the signs of arthritis, which may include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty moving. If these symptoms persist, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis, the doctor said