Women are capable of doing the darndest things!
Here’s a good one: It’s not unusual for 50 percent of women with some sort of hip or knee pain to soldier on with their responsibilities for as long as five years before seeing a doctor. “It’s extremely common for women to hold back before seeking care because they’re the leaders of their households and taking care of everyone else first,” said Dr. James Dowd, an orthopedic surgeon in Virginia.
Osteoarthritis is “the biggest culprit” for women suffering from hip or knee pain, affecting between 25 and 30 million Americans at any given time, Dr. Dowd told FabOverFifty. “One out of two people will be touched by osteoarthritis at some point during their lifetime, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” the doctor added. Women account for nearly 60 percent of those affected by osteoarthritis.
Given the prevalence of osteoarthritis, and how it can impact our day-to-day activities and diminish our lives, we asked Dr. Dowd to educate us about the disease and its treatment.
FOF: What is osteoarthritis?
Dr. Dowd: Osteoarthritis has as its core, in all of our joints, the gradual breakdown and loss of the cartilage, which is the beautiful, nice smooth surface on which we all walk. As the cartilage breaks down, it creates a chemical cascade that is inflammation causing pain, stiffness, and occasional swelling.
What gives someone a predisposition to osteoarthritis?
Many factors contribute to the development of osteoarthritis, including genetics, excess weight, and a prior injury. If you’re really active, and you injured your knee when you were younger (had a tear, for example, in the cushioning cartilage in the knee, called the meniscus), it probably changed the mechanics of the knee, and put you at a greater risk for osteoarthritis. I’d focus on low impact activities.