Women Have More Severe Knee Arthritis More Often Than MenFor a very long time, medicine treated women the same as men. But research has shown over and over that this just is not so. In the case of osteoarthritis (OA), for example, women are more likely to have this condition. And their symptoms are worse. But they don't get a knee replacement nearly as often as men do.
Differences in OA based on gender is the topic of this article. It's not clear why treatment is different for women compared with men. Risk factors such as anatomy and genetics may play a role. Previous knee injury may also be an important difference.
But even though women have a thinner patella (knee cap) and thinner knee cartilage, there's no proof that these things make any difference. Other anatomical differences such as a narrower femur (thighbone) and larger Q-angle of the quadriceps muscle haven't been linked to gender differences either.
Studies show that women are more likely to have worse symptoms. They have greater disability compared with men who have OA. And even after adjusting for willingness to have surgery, women are still less likely to have a knee or hip replacement.
The reasons for the underuse of joint replacement by women are unknown. More research is needed to understand the whys of gender differences. Until then, the authors suggest much more education must be done to help women get diagnosed and treated sooner.
Mary I. O'Connor, MD. Sex Differences in Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. September 2007. Vol. 15. Supplement 1. Pp. S22-S25.
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