Orthopedic problems present themselves differently in men and women. For each, there’s a different set of things you need to watch for. Even if the problems never manifest, you should be aware they exist. When it comes to orthopedic problems, women need to be more wary of their bones, and the strength of them.
4 Common Orthopedic Problems Women Need to Watch Out For
The orthopedic problems women and men are susceptible to can vary wildly. While the normal separating factor between two people’s risk has much more to do with the activities they partake in, gender certainly plays a factor. The differences in body structure between men and women can drastically alter their future. Orthopedists can account for this, but you should too.
Knowing what you are at risk for can have great benefits for your health. As we’ve discussed before, being educated about your health can sometimes spare you a medical bill. Because of this, women should be aware of the unique orthopedic problems that they face. Whether it helps to inform your decisions or is just something you keep in the back of your mind, this knowledge can and will help you to remain healthy into the later years of your life.
As women begin to get older, their estrogen levels begin to decrease. This drop off is significant, especially around menopause. When this happens, it can have some unfortunate side effects. One of these side effects is a decrease in bone density.
Estrogen helps to protect your bones. Like calcium, it keeps them strong. Without estrogen, bones begin to weaken and grow brittle, becoming more susceptible to breaking or fracturing. This is osteoporosis, a mundane but dangerous condition. It’s likely you were aware of this already: it’s seen as a practical inevitability of aging.
Luckily, this isn’t the case. While osteoporosis is incredibly common, it is not an absolute fact. If you are worried about osteoporosis, there are actually steps you can take to lower your risk and lessen the impact. Exercise and a well-balanced diet, especially during your teenage and young adult years, can help to keep your bones strong as you grow older.
Here’s a little-known fact: sprained ankles are almost twice as common in women as they are in men. Why is that?
Well, no one is 100% sure, actually. However, there are many leading theories. The first and most common is that women have a weaker bone structure than men, possibly as a result of their higher estrogen levels. This would seemingly contradict what we know about osteoporosis, though. Instead, it needs to be coupled with a lower muscle mass. Women tend to be more lean in build than men, possibly leaving them more susceptible to injury.
Others suggest that women have looser ligaments, which is supported by the fact that women tend to be more flexible than men. Whether it is a cause or result of the flexibility isn’t known, but it is reasonable that this could cause women to be more susceptible to ligament injuries. It might also be a dietary issue, as some believe that there is a higher rate of women with a calcium or vitamin D deficiency.
Similarly to sprained ankles, women are also more susceptible to ACL tears. In fact, women are 8 times more likely to suffer an ACL tear than men. Again, the why isn’t very clear. Many of the same reasons could apply, actually.
Many attribute the injury to a difference in movement between men and women. For example, men and women typically land differently after a jump. Women often land upright, with their knees closer together. Women also pivot on one foot, while men tend to shuffle their feet when changing direction.
Some suggest that this is because women tend to have wider hips, which naturally changes the alignment of the knees and ankles. Women also have a narrower space in the knee for the ACL to move, possibly leaving it at a higher risk for tears.
A Difference in Treatment
Beyond the risk of injury, it’s also more common for women to receive inadequate care. Women are much less likely to get a knee replacement early in arthritis treatment than men. This often lets the problem worsen. Unfortunately, women also feel the effects much harder. A woman with arthritis in the knee can often have her gait changed forever as a result. Again, the reasoning is unclear.
When it comes to orthopedic problems, women and men have a different set of things to look out for. While the gap is slowly closing, it is still there. These are the things you should know and should watch out for. You may never tear your ACL, but know that the threat is there.