You might be sitting down and working in front of a computer at your 9 to 5 desk job, typing away for hours at a time; or maybe you stock shelves as a retail associate, moving heavy objects all day long; or perhaps you work in daycare, bending down to pick up toys, comforting homesick children, and cleaning up messes.
Repetitive daily activities and lifelong wear and tear on the joints slowly eats away at the soft cartilage between your bones, regardless of your career path. When there is no more cartilage between your bones, painful bone-on-bone friction occurs that can cause inflammation and swelling, gradually leading to immobility. This form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis, the most common form, which alone affects around 21 million Americans.
Another form of arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis occurs less frequently, but is up to three times more likely to occur in women than men, specifically those over the age of 30. It is an autoimmune disease that causes synovial fluid that lubricates the joints to become inflamed and painful. Symptoms include long lasting pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joint area – even during rest.
So why are women more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis? According to recent studies, the answer may lie within our genes. Studies show that X-chromosome-specific genes account for 14 of the 46 specific genes linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
This is a significant finding, since women have two X chromosomes while men have only one X chromosome. While the presences of X-chromosome-specific genes increases one’s risk for rheumatoid arthritis, this may also be due to high levels of the hormone estrogen in women.
Estrogen helps to protect the bones. However, after menopause less estrogen is produced. This can cause changes in the joints, including weakened bones. Sustained lower estrogen levels can make women more susceptible to fractures and other conditions, including arthritis.
While there is currently no cure for arthritis, if action is taken early on, the severity of symptoms can be reduced. If you feel pain, stiffness, or swelling in the area of your joint for more than two weeks, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ishan Gunawardene to discuss the probability of arthritis.
The sooner you know the specific type of arthritis you may be suffering from, the sooner Dr. Gunawardene can prescribe an effective treatment. Over-the-counter or prescription medications often relieve pain and swelling, but cortisone injections can be given if something stronger is needed. Additionally, acupuncture, physical therapy, and regular engagement in a low impact exercise regime have proven effective in treating and managing symptoms.
If you are suffering from joint pain or need help managing your arthritic symptoms, call (561) 434-1935, or request an appointment online with Dr. Gunawardene today.