Does Arthritis Differ In Men And Women?

Arthritis is an uncomfortable condition that impacts the joints. While most people use the term to refer to any long-term joint discomfort, there are more than 100 types of arthritis with the most common being osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although arthritis can occur in anyone, the condition is usually seen in adults older than 65, and women are often impacted by the condition far more frequently than men. However, children and younger adults can also develop arthritis. Specifically, with RA, women are more likely to be impacted by the condition. Research suggests that fluctuating levels of estrogen and prolactin hormones may contribute to the higher incidence in women at a 3:1 ratio as compared to men.

Arthritis symptoms

Some of the most common arthritis symptoms include joint pain and stiffness. Additionally, people may experience a limited range of motion or see redness in the skin around an affected joint. Many people report that symptoms are most noticeable in the morning. For people with RA, other symptoms can include feeling tired, a loss of appetite, or even anemia. In severe cases, a person may have joint deformities if the condition isn’t treated properly.

Diagnosing arthritis

Because arthritis is a degenerative condition that can impact mobility, people who suspect joint pain is linked to the condition should speak to a physician immediately. A primary care physician or rheumatologist can perform a physical exam to determine if arthritis is the cause of the joint pain. During the exam, the physician will check the fluid around the joints, look for redness on the joints, and determine if there is any limited range of motion. In some cases, a person may also need to undergo blood tests to check for antibodies such as anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP), the rheumatoid factor (RF), and the antinuclear antibodies (ANA). During an arthritis exam, patients may also undergo x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans so physicians can get a better look at the bones and cartilage.

Creating a treatment plan

Arthritis treatment plans typically center around reducing pain, preventing further damage to the joints, and improving mobility or range of motion. Often, arthritis patients are encouraged to take a comprehensive approach to manage and treat the condition. A multi-faceted approach will usually include prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage pain. The plan may also involve undergoing physical therapy to improve mobility and lifestyle changes if conditions such as being overweight or a poor diet are contributing to symptoms. In more serious cases, surgery may be necessary to replace joints or to perform a joint fusion.

Improving quality of life with arthritis

Currently, there is no cure for arthritis. However, people who suspect or have been diagnosed with arthritis should focus on reducing symptoms and improving mobility. Working with a primary care physician or rheumatologist, as well as staying active and eating a balanced diet, can be effective tools to manage the condition and reduce the impact on quality of life. For more information about arthritis treatment, speak with a healthcare provider.