If you’re a woman nearing menopause and feel the oncoming of joint pain, you might want to read up about arthritis. The fact about arthritis is that it affects women more than men. While a general pain in the joints may be something that is unrelated to arthritis, it is still useful to understand how women are more prone to arthritis and tend to require joint replacement.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is the swelling or degeneration in the joints that cause pain and difficulty in movement. The most commonly affected joints include hips, knees, hands, feet and lower back. There are several types of arthritis but of them, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is where the cartilage in the joint has broken down due to general wear and tear of the joint. This is generally the most common kind of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease that attacks the protective membrane around certain joints. Eventually the cartilage and the bone in the joint also get destroyed.
Factors that may contribute to arthritis
Women are particularly more susceptible to osteoarthritis due to many biological and lifestyle factors. We shall try to explore these factors that could help you identify factors that may be more relevant to you.
Menstrual cycle and arthritis: During certain stages of the menstrual cycle, women experience more joint laxity or instability. This causes women who may be active in sports to suffer injuries and tear their Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) more often than men. An ACL injury makes the person four times more likely to get knee osteoarthritis in the future.
Menopause: While the correlation between hormones and arthritis can be quite complicated, as estrogen levels drop after menopause, women complain of joint pain.
The musculoskeletal structure: Women have a different body structure to men that influences the way women walk or run. There are many tiny differences that tip the balance against women in regards to arthritis like the fact that women’s knees have lesser cartilage in the joints as compared to men.
Genetic factors: The chances of arthritis increases for a woman if her mother has also had arthritis.
Orthopaedics vs Rheumatology
Both orthopaedics and rheumatology deal with the musculoskeletal system of the body. However, orthopaedics specialises in the surgical intervention required to treat the disorder of the musculoskeletal system whereas rheumatology deals with the non-surgical treatment of these disorders. So in that case, if you have reached a very severe stage of arthritis requiring a joint replacement, you should go to an orthopaedic doctor.
Early stages of arthritis is generally treated with non-surgical treatments to help alleviate the pain and improve mobility. This may include;
- anti-inflammatory medication
- heat and cold treatments on a daily basis
However, when arthritis progresses to a point where the pain is worsening and hard to manage and mobility is heavily compromised, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty.
Joint replacement surgery
Joint replacement surgery is the whole replacement of a joint with an artificial material such as metal, plastic or ceramic. This procedure is most commonly used for the knees and the hip. In some cases joint replacement surgery can be done on the shoulders or ankles as well. A joint replacement surgery is considered a major surgery requiring six months to heal from. An orthopaedic doctor will gauge your overall health by doing some blood tests, ECG’s etc. to ensure that the body is capable of taking on a major surgery.
The biggest advantage of a joint replacement surgery is that it can give you an additional 10-15 years of good mobility with proper exercise and diet. If you are suffering from arthritis and need a consultation, you can make an appointment with a joint replacement surgeon in Palam Vihar or a joint replacement surgeon in Faridabad.