In this blog, renowned orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Rajeev Chatterjee, at The Calcutta Medical Research Centre tells us why women are more prone to knee and joint issues and what they can do about it.
Dr. Chatterjee sees almost 70:30 ratio of joint replacement between women and men and 75:25 ratios of fractures. He explains knee and joint health in women through three stages in her life.
He says, women tend to have weaker bones earlier and are more prone to wear and tear over the years and the reasons for this are multi factorial.
Hormones and hormonal changes throughout her life rule a woman’s body. Women are more prone than men to have conditions that cause joint pain and experience hormone fluctuations that affect their vulnerability to knee and joint issues. Also, with changing lifestyles and rapid urbanisation, the stress on a woman’s body, especially her joints and bones has increased greatly.
The majority of Indian women who don’t lead west-influenced lifestyles squat more over household chores etc. In non-urban areas, women are seen squatting in front of a coal burner to cook. This constant squatting also takes a toll on their knees. This lifestyle also predisposes them to have soft and worn out bones. Therefore, a combination of factors results in women being more prone to fractures and joint replacements.
It is important to put in place preventive measures from a very early age to ensure that the next generation of women are less likely to have bone and knee injuries, and have a decreased fracture and replacement rate.
The education and awareness should start with from teenage. The next generation of women should be educated to understand that household work must be shared with their partners and children. Sharing the load will ensure less stress in the joints and bones.
“Women should ensure proper dietary habits which includes dairy products and regular meals. A regular exercise habit should also be cultivated. A woman also needs exposure to sunlight to strengthen her bones. Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D and women should be encouraged to get sunlight exposure in the morning, between 8 – 10 am. “
Post 30, it has been seen that women tend to put on more weight than men, especially, if the woman has had her first child. Therefore, it is essential for women to keep their weight under check between 30-40 years of age, while continuing a balanced diet, regular exercise and exposure to the sun.
Post 40, when women reach menopause, either naturally or surgically, it is imperative to consult a gynaecologist to check if there is a need for hormone replacement therapy. At this age women, should consult a doctor to start off oral calcium supplementation on an on-off basis.
At about 45 – 50, one should get regular check-ups for the bone to constantly analyse bone health as a preventive measure.