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Osteoarthritis in women after menopause is a complex illness with many factors that can contribute to its onset. Women are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis than men, with the probability of developing it increasing with age. The prevalence of osteoarthritis is higher among postmenopausal women than premenopausal women. Osteoarthritis in women often has a significantly negative impact on the quality of their lives. Osteoarthritis can be present at any age prior to menopause, but it typically occurs in a person’s 60s or 70s.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease, is a condition in which the cartilage that protects the ends of bones breaks down and causes pain. Joints can be affected in many ways, but it’s common for hips, knees and fingers to be affected by this condition. Symptoms include gradual onset of pain and stiffness in joints and may be worsened by stress or injury.

Why osteoarthritis of women rates have been increasing?

Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that results in damage to the joints and bones. In recent years, it has been found that rates of osteoarthritis have been increasing in women. The number of women who have been diagnosed with this condition has increased from 27% to 30%. Some factors linked to the increase may be a change in lifestyle, obesity, changes in hormone levels, and bone density.

Why is OA a problem for women after menopause?

Scientific studies show that following menopause, women are less able to produce estrogen, which can cause bone loss leading to osteoporosis. The lower estrogen levels also decrease the vaginal wall elasticity, which may lead to urinary tract infections. During menopause, oestrogen levels decrease by 30%. This decrease in oestrogen affects the bones and the bladder. Bone loss caused by low hormone levels may lead to osteoporosis.

Sign and symptoms

As the disease advances, symptoms may include:

● stiffness in the joints with morning stiffness that lasts more than 30 minutes. This can be accompanied by muscle weakness, tenderness and swelling.

● decreased range of motion in a joint

● muscle weakness and atrophy

● pain that wakes you up at night

This condition can have an impact on quality of life and can cause difficulties in walking, climbing stairs and getting out of a chair. It is associated with a poor quality of life.

How is OA diagnosed?

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed by a medical professional , who may use a variety of tests including x-rays, to rule out other possible conditions. The history and physical examination can help establish a diagnosis, as well as ruling out other possible conditions. Joints affected by osteoarthritis may be swollen and tender to the touch. Radiographs may show changes in the shape of joints due to the wearing down of the cartilage.

Treatment of osteoarthritis in women after menopause

The treatment of osteoarthritis in women after menopause is a difficult process. Women who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis after menopause have a higher risk of developing this chronic condition due to their age and the hormonal changes which accompany aging. One study found that women over the age of 65 were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis than men, even when gender-specific risk factors were excluded.

There are many types of osteoarthritis and treatments can vary. This condition is a chronic, progressive, and debilitating disease that often becomes more painful as time goes on. In its early stages, the pain from osteoarthritis may be intermittent and relieved by rest. As the disease progresses, pain can become constant and cause loss of mobility. In most cases, osteoarthritis is associated with aging in areas where you carry a lot of weight; this includes the joints of your hips, knees, and spine.

The most common treatment for osteoarthritis is pain management. This may include:

Medications

• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These medications, when taken regularly and at the proper dosage, can be used to control the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. The effects of NSAIDs can last for four to six hours, which means you may need to take multiple doses throughout the day.

• Acetaminophen is often used along with acetaminophen to provide faster relief. It’s important, however, not to combine NSAIDs and acetaminophen if you have liver or kidney problems, as this can lead to serious health issues.

• Diclofenac is another NSAID, which helps in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

• Corticosteroids are used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

• Methotrexate is an anti-inflammatory medication that helps in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

Physical Therapy

Exercise

A physical therapist will teach you exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your joints. This can relieve pain and improve joint function. Sometimes heat or ice is used during these exercises. 

Range of motion exercises

This helps you move the joint through its full range of motion. It can help prevent stiffness and muscle weakness that can occur with osteoarthritis.

Joint protection techniques

These are designed to help you avoid damaging your joint while moving. For example, using a cane or brace during certain movements can reduce pain and damage to your joints.

Strengthening exercises

These include strengthening the muscles around your joints. This helps to support your joint and relieve pain. These exercises may also improve how well you can move your joint.

Stretching exercises

These may include stretching the muscles around the joints to improve flexibility and range of motion. Flexibility is how far you can move a joint. Range of motion is how much movement the joint has in different directions.

Hydrotherapy

This is a form of physical therapy that uses warm water. It provides resistive exercise while also improving your range of motion and flexibility. You may also do exercises in the water.

Balance and coordination exercises

These exercises help improve your ability to balance and coordinate your movements. This can make it easier to perform daily tasks, such as walking or getting out of a chair.

Weight management and nutrition counseling

Weight management is important to reduce stress on your joints. This may include a diet plan and exercise program.

Lastly, osteoarthritis of women after menopause is an ailment that can result in chronic pain, reduced mobility, and depression. Women who are experiencing these symptoms should contact their general practitioner to discuss treatments like physical therapy or over-the-counter medications.

If you are experiencing osteoarthritis of women after menopause, please contact your general practitioner for treatment options. There are many different ways to stop the progression of the disease and alleviate the pain.

Dr. Sapia Akter

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