Everyone feels the odd ache or pain in their joints from time to time. They can be the result of sleeping funny or, on the other end of the spectrum, athletic endeavors. There are all kinds of reasons for it, but unfortunately, the worst ones tend to affect women more often than men.
Women make up 60% of the 27 million Americans who are living with osteoarthritis. Three times as many women have rheumatoid arthritis as men. These are just two examples of diseases that cause joint pain and that affect women to a much larger degree.
There are many ways to possibly explain why women suffer more from these types of diseases. Many have to do with hormones. Many women who suffer from chronic joint pain feel it intensify just prior to their period, when their body is losing estrogen. As soon as this protective hormone returns, they’re back to feeling ok.
Making matters worse, there is some reason to believe that endorphins, natural painkillers found within the body, are friendlier to men than women. Though it’s currently not known why, men tend to feel them more intensely than women. When reacting to pain, the body releases dopamine to help fight off the sensation. Unfortunately, the female body provides a much milder dose. Endorphins lose effectiveness when they’re not accompanied by sufficient amounts of dopamine.
Just like with the body’s natural medication, endorphins, it turns out women actually react differently to the real stuff as well. This holds true for medicine meant to help joint pain. Those hormone levels we mentioned earlier can reduce the amount of these important medicines that are in a woman’s bloodstream. So women who don’t take a higher dose can suffer unnecessarily. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, women may also need more because their menstrual cycle is making more vulnerable to pain in the first place.
This explains why women may be more susceptible to pain, but their high propensity for joint problems could have to do with their greater dexterity. For example, women suffer knee joint pain much more than men. Perhaps it’s because that joint receives so much more movement for them, giving the knee greater exposure to the bones below it.
Joint pain may be a natural part of getting older, but for women it can be a far more serious issue. This is why a diet high in calcium is so important for women as well as doctors who appreciate how their bodies handle pain differently.