Osteoarthritis and Menopause, Is There a Link?

by WV Marshall

Osteoarthritis, OA for short, is the most common type of arthritis.

The breakdown of cartilage between joints – including knees, shoulders and hips – results in the pain and inflammation associated with OA. Women have higher estrogen levels than men, and during menopause women experience a decline in those estrogen levels.

OA’s link with menopause is somewhat muddled.

In a 2009 peer-reviewed article, researchers examined previous studies on estrogen and arthritis and found evidence supporting a correlation between estrogen and joint health, but could not determine the precise role estrogen plays in OA.

Another studies review of incidence and risk factors of OA, researchers noted the inclusive results regarding the role that estrogen plays in OA but did not agree that OA is most commonly seen in women who have gone through menopause.

Researchers also looked at estrogen replacement therapy as an OA treatment, but results were inconclusive.

This information, as well as treatments, risk factors and symptoms were listed at www.healthline.com/.

A more recent study in 2016 saw researchers at looking using estrogen and estrogen receptor modulators to manage OA symptoms, healthline.com reported. While they found some promising results, researchers recommended the need for higher quality studies before suggesting this treatment be used.

So what does this mean in real life? OA is a painful condition that may or may not be related to a reduction in estrogen that commonly occurs in menopause.

In any event, you know your body and you recognize when something needs to be discussed with your medical provider, who can examine your affected joint, check for tenderness, swelling or redness, as well as the joint’s range of motion. Your healthcare provider also may recommend imaging and lab tests.

While there is no cure for OA, there are measures that you can take to manage it, such as medication, therapies, surgery or other medical procedures, and lifestyle changes. www.mayoclinic.org includes a list of the various measures, as well as what you can do to prep for a medical appointment.