Osteoarthritis Affects More Women than Men, Why?

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is reported more common in women than in men, why? Well, the disease itself is associated with wear and tear on the cartilage (a tough tissue that cushions the end of bone in the joint). If compared to women, men are less likely to become a sedentary individual, reducing the risk of obesity. And obesity can increase the risk of OA. This can be one of the reasons, what else?

Why is obesity linked to the high risk of OA?

Before exploring other possible reasons of why this kind of arthritis affects more women than men, it’s not too bad idea to understand of why you need to keep your weight as ideal as possible if you do concern to your risk of OA.

image_illustration229jpgYour joint is a weight-bearing to support the movement of your body in daily routines. The knee joints are so essential to support you when standing, walking, and running. In fact, knees are the most common site where OA occurs.

If you are overweight or obese, your joints need to work harder. There will be more strain that can hit your joint. Over time, this can speed up the degeneration of the cartilage in the joint, making it wear away faster and you are at greater risk of having joint problem such as OA.

You might ever hear the issue that diet can help for people with OA. Actually, there is no evidence to confirm the link between diet and OA.

But it’s clear that diet can help control your weight gain. This is the only one of confirmed reason why diet changes can be included in the treatment plan. However, some foods are commonly not recommended, especially those that can trigger excess inflammation. See more about these foods in here!

And the reasons of why women are at greater likelihood of becoming obese than men are actually not clearly understood yet, though some theories have been purposed! The reason can vary from case to case.

Biological differences in gender

Another reason is certain biological difference between in women and men. The exactly underlying mechanism and reason for this difference are not clear yet, but some opinions have been purposed.

According to some researches, the difference at molecular and cellular levels may have contribution in increasing the risk of OA.

Another theory, women have more elastic tendons in the lower body because their body is designed for giving birth. This may suggest that the female body is more likely to have unstable joint in the lower body.

Furthermore, the size or and shape of female hips may have an effect, too. Their hips are relatively wider that may cause unsymmetrically movement to the knees, causing the joints of their knee not as straight as the male’s knee joints.

It’s also thought that the female cartilage is not as strong as the male cartilage. Men have more knee cartilage, bigger ligaments and muscles – all these things making their knee stronger and less likely to get damage.

Hormonal factors

An interesting fact, the number of women with OA increases drastically after the age of 45. Even before the age of 45, the number of women and men with OA is almost equal.

In general, experts put women aged 50 or over at higher prevalence of developing this kind of arthritis. And menopause usually occurs at the age of 50s.

Menopause is a condition of when a woman is no longer in her childbearing age. This phase is also characterized by the significant loss of female hormones such as estrogen.

Moreover, the levels of estrogen have been found greater in cartilage with arthritis than in cartilage without arthritis /normal cartilage. Some evidences also have been found that estrogen may have a role in protecting the cartilage from inflammation, and inflammation can increase the risk of arthritis.

All of these things suggest that hormones may play a key role to influence the development of arthritis in women.


OA not only affects knee, back or neck (spines), and hip; but also joints of fingers. Inevitable mechanical issues that cause wear and tear of cartilage in the joint as the age can be one of reasonable reasons behind OA of the knee, hips, or spines – but may be not enough to explain OA of the fingers.

The joints of fingers are often moved frequently in daily routines, but the strains that hit them are not as strong as those that hit joints of knee, spine, or hip.

For instance, obesity is a risk factor of this joint disease because it can be associated with mechanical loading that push the joint work harder. But the link between the risk of OA in the finger and obesity cannot be fully understood and explained by only mechanical loading.

Therefore other factors may have a role, and one of these factors is genetic. And some experts believe that OA in the finger has the greater chance to be inherited.


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