Skip to content

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

All About Osteoarthritis and Women

By
WebMD Feature

If you've just been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA), you're not alone. Many women past age 50 discover OA is the reason for their creaking knees, aching backs, and sore fingers. Suddenly life is all about osteoarthritis -- but luckily, arthritis doesn't have to take control.

Arthritis is "the most common form of disability. It's also a natural part of aging," says Primal Kaur, MD, director of the Osteoporosis Clinic at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Recommended Related to Osteoarthritis

Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis

As you age, your chance of developing osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear, increases. The joint damage associated with osteoarthritis causes swelling, pain, and deformity. Here is information about how osteoarthritis affects the foot and ankle and information you can use to help you manage this debilitating condition.

Read the Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis article > >

In the U.S., one in five adults has osteoarthritis -- 24 million women and 17 million men, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

"I'm constantly telling people that the body is like a car, so there's going to be wear and tear as we grow older," Kaur, an arthritis specialist, tells WebMD. Men typically feel the onset earlier in life than women do, she says. "But after age 55, more women than men will develop it -- and women often have it more severely."

All About Osteoarthritis: What's Going On Here?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that affects cartilage, the rubbery cushion covering bones in the joints, keeping them flexible. Over time, cartilage begins to stiffen and damages more easily -- and gradually it loses its "shock absorber" qualities. Bones start rubbing against each other, and the pain begins.

Women tend to be plagued by osteoarthritis more than men. Heredity increases the risk: A genetic defect triggering defective cartilage or a joint abnormality can lead to osteoarthritis. "If your mom had knobby fingers, you're more likely to develop arthritis there," says Kaur.

Other risk factors are involved: Obesity puts extra stress on knees and hips, which leads to cartilage breakdown. A sports injury, severe back injury, or broken bone takes a toll on the joints -- and pretty soon, it's all about osteoarthritis.

"Pain is the symptom that gets everyone's attention," Kaur tells WebMD.

13 Tips: Rein in Your Osteoarthritis Pain

Your life doesn't have to be all about osteoarthritis. There's much you can do to enjoy a better quality of life. By learning about your disease -- and making some changes -- you can live well.

1. Lose Weight. If you are overweight or obese, you're putting extra stress on weight-bearing joints. Losing weight lessens the risk of further joint injury. It also increases your mobility.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

elderly hands
Even with arthritis pain.
woman exercising
Here are 7 easy tips.
 
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
 
Keep Joints Healthy
SLIDESHOW
Chronic Pain Healthcheck
HEALTH CHECK
 
close up of man with gut
Article
man knee support
Article
 
woman with cold compress
QUIZ
Man doing tai chi
Article
 
hand gripping green rubber ball
Slideshow
person walking with assistance
Slideshow