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Women and Knee Osteoarthritis

March 10, 2010
Causes of OA

Causes of knee pain

It is estimated that women comprise 60% of the 27 million people in the United States that have osteoarthritis (OA).  Why?

Generally men will develop OA at a younger age than women.  But at 55 women begin to develop OA with an increased frequency and severity.  The reasons are biological, anatomical, and fashion related.

Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men.  So they carry more weight relative to their skeletal structures.  More weight means more wear and tear the knees absorb with every step.  Also researchers believe that estrogen helps protect cartilage.  At menopause when estrogen levels drop, so does the protection for the cartilage.  So as women age, their knees take more abuse with less protection.

In addition, women have wider hips than men and the tendons surrounding their knees are more lax.  The hourglass shape helps facilitate child birth but puts females at a bio-mechancial disadvantage to men in regards to how weight is distributed across their knee joints.

Fashion must also be figured into the OA equation.  Most men don’t wear high heels.  A Harvard study explained that high heels were shown to strain the knees and stress the surrounding anatomy.

Add genetics.  Heredity certainly plays a role.  There is a good chance that the daughter of a woman with Knee OA will have Knee OA herself.



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