Men and women are different in many ways, including in genetics, bone structure, and body mass composition. Orthopedic diseases and injuries affect both genders, yet their manifestation and predominance greatly vary across the genders. Some orthopedic issues are more prevalent in women while others are more prominent in men. If you are a woman or care about women, it’s vital to understand the orthopedic risks to women, because if you know your enemy, you already have an advantage.
Women are more prone to orthopedic issues than men. Why? The answer is complex. Various factors alter bone strength and endurance. To name a few:
1. Genetic differences in men and women. These affect the vitality of bones, ligaments, and tendons.
2. Hormonal differences in men and women. Estrogen and progesterone have an immense role in the remodeling of bones.
3. Anatomical differences in the bone structures of men and women.
4. Diet differences in men and women. This influences bone strength.
Specific bone-related diseases that are more common in women:
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. It’s characterized by reduced bone mass. Postmenopausal women are more susceptible to osteoporosis because they are more likely to have estrogen deficiency. Estrogen increases the activation of osteoblasts which increases bone production. Postmenopausal decreases in estrogen leads to more bone resorption than formation. The ultimate result is reduced bone mass and weakening of bones, making them more susceptible to fractures.
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear:
ACL injuries have dramatically increased over the past ten years. With the rapid rise in women’s participation in sports, ACL injuries have become more prevalent among women. ACL injuries in women are 3.5 times greater in basketball and 2.8 times greater in soccer than in men. The cause of this is believed to be anatomical differences in the male and female pelvis and femoral notch.
Carpal tunnel syndrome:
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the weakening of hand muscles due to nerve compression in the wrist. Women are more prone than men to this disease because women retain more fluid in the body than men due to their hormonal fluctuations. The retained water causes swelling and compression of the median nerve in the wrist. Moreover, women are more likely to develop thyroid disorders than men, which also causes more retained water and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that is more prevalent in women than in men. The sole reason behind this is that women are more genetically predisposed to autoimmune diseases. If you have a positive family history of rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases, then there is an increased chance that you might also develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Frozen shoulder is the inflammation of the shoulder joint capsule resulting in limited movement across the shoulder joint. It predominantly impacts women in the fourth to sixth decade of life. Just like carpal tunnel syndrome, a frozen shoulder is also linked to hormonal imbalance, thyroid dysfunctions, and menopause.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in women. The plantar fascia is the connective tissue between your toes and heel bones. Its occurrence is associated with pregnancy, obesity, strenuous exercises, and structural differences such as high arch or flat feet.
Santa Rosa Orthopaedics
Santa Rosa Orthopaedics (SRO) is a full-service orthopedics practice committed to providing exceptional care for all types of orthopedic injuries and conditions. Our team of board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic doctors offers the latest nonsurgical and surgical treatment options from a wide range of orthopedic sub-specialties and sports medicine. We keep you in motion.