This type of arthritis or joint pain is termed “wear and tear”, because it can result from overuse. It can occur in and frequently does in young athletes, and in women and men as they age. It can also be related to diet, such as the nightshade family. These include tomatoes, eggplant, and white potatoes. It can also be affected by eating food allergens. It can also be affected by lack of estrogen.
An interesting study was presented to the International Menopause Society showing the number of women who were experiencing osteoarthritis prior to menopause and afterwards. The results showed a definite increase of osteoarthritis as women became menopausal. Of particular interest, was the number of women in this study who were given hormone replacement therapy after menopause and were experiencing osteoarthritis. It dropped to the level reported prior to menopause. In other words, when women were given hormone replacement, their arthritis improved!
In order to understand this, we must examine the role of estrogen in joint health. Estrogen receptors are found joint cartilage, bone, synovium, muscles and tendons. Estrogen deficiency increases reactive oxygen species which can damage tissues. Also, estrogen decreases pro-inflammatory cytokines. Women in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures who were currently using estrogen for at least 10 years, were found to have a greater reduction in risk of osteoarthritis of the hip than users of less than 10 years.
Patients often ask me how long they should take their hormone replacement therapy. I tell them as long as they want to see the benefits.