Doctors are seeing an alarming number of young women come in to their office with knee pain. They are even more alarmed that more and more of these women are being diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA). This is a disease that attacks the joints and usually does not show up until much later in life, but they are finding that women in their 20s are starting to come in with the beginning signs of OA.
In the year 2,000 there were 53,000 women who were between the ages of 20 and 39 that were diagnosed with OA. In 2010 that number shot up to 230,000. Why are these numbers increasing so rapidly? This is especially troubling when the women are so young and are already experiencing end-stage arthritis in their joints that sometime requires surgery.
Doctors feel that these numbers are becoming higher and higher because women are pushing themselves harder and are spending more time out on the field playing sports than ever before. When in high school girls are participating in sports from volleyball, to track, to basketball and pushing themselves to the limit. They want to even out the playing field with men so they train to be the best that they can be. While this is not necessarily a bad thing for women in general, it is taking a toll on their physical health. It is even worse when only one sport is focused on as the repetitive motions can damage the joint much quicker.
Women’s joints take more of a beating than men’s as recent studies have shown that a woman’s muscles respond differently in times of physical crisis. This means more damage, especially to the ACL. If this tears it can be a lifelong struggle to get your knee back to normal. Women are eight times more likely than men to have an ACL tear.
To help prevent OA you can:
– Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a huge reason that OA develops
– Do knee-friendly workout routines
– Take anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal) to help swelling
– Don’t smoke. Smoking can cause weakness in cartilage