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Archive for May 7th, 2011

Risk Factor - Gender

Risk Factor - Gender

It is estimated that women comprise 60% of the 27 million people in the United States that have osteoarthritis. It occurs in men more commonly when they are younger but after the age of 55 women will develop knee osteoarthritis more severely. There are several reasons for this:

 

  • Anatomy.  Women have wider hips than men, so their legs are angled differently. This means their body weight is less evenly distributed across their knees, putting women at a biomechanical disadvantage to men. Also, the tendons in the lower bodies of women are more flexible than in men, making their joints less stable. The flexible tendons and wider hips help facilitate child birth, but combine to have a negative effect on knee joints.
  • Menopause. Researchers believe that estrogen helps protect cartilage in women. When estrogen levels drop, so does the protection. Women going through menopause tend to gain weight, particularly around the belly. The combination of weight gain and less cartilage protection may play a part as to why women experience a higher rate of Knee OA as compared to men.
  • High Heels. A Harvard study explained that women who wear high heels have an increased likelihood of getting OA in their knees. High heels were shown to strain knees and stress the surrounding anatomy. This strain can be shown to lead to OA.
  • Genetics. Heredity certainly plays a role in the development of OA. There is a good chance that the daughter of a woman with OA will have OA herself.
  • Obesity – Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men. They average 25% as compared to 15% in men.