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A quick guide to healthy joints for women

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Women are more prone to joint issues than men. The right foods, supplements and exercise can help.

Joint stiffness and inflammation can be helped with a nutritious diet incorporating a variety of food groups, augmented by proper supplementation. Whether your goal is to improve your athletic performance, recover faster, reduce arthritis symptoms or improve flexibility, it is important to keep yourself informed on the latest tips and products out there to keep you feeling your best.

The word “arthritis” is derived from the Greek words arthron for “joint” and itis for “inflammation.” The term is used for an array of joint problems that have similar symptoms including stiffness, swelling and, of course, pain. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other types include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

According to MedBroadcastarthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in Canada, affecting one in every six Canadians over the age of 14—with 56% of those suffering under the age of 65.

Joint problems like shoulder pain or an ache in the knee are common over time for both men and women due to simple wear and tear. With age, factors like lack of exercise, weight gain and arthritis can put even more stress on the joints.

However, for women it’s a little more common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, 41 million out of the 70 million Americans who suffer from arthritis or chronic joint pain are women.

This number stems from biological issues including women having a lower bone mass than men, weak bones due to the decrease in estrogen during menopause, hormone fluctuations and overuse injuries like stress fractures. According to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, mechanical differ- ences between the male and female body can increase risk of injury and joint pain. The way a woman’s thigh, hip and butt muscles are engaged—in combination with the angle between the hip and knee—puts her at a higher risk for injuries, especially knee injuries.

“Women tend to be more limber and loose-jointed than men,” says Dr. Bruce Solitar, MD, a rheumatologist at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. “So there’s more movement in that area, increasing the risk that the kneecap will rub on the bones below it.”

High risk factors for arthritis and joint pain in women

  • »  Being postmenopausal
  • »  Having a sedentary lifestyle
  • »  Previous joint injuries
  • »  Overconsumption of alcohol(more than one drink daily)
  • »  Smoking

Food to help joint inflammation

Joint pain and inflammation can be alleviated with a nutritious diet incorporating a variety of food groups. Here are some examples of foods that contain joint-healing properties:

Supplements for good joints

Research shows combinations of targeted plant-derived ingredients can help with joint pain, while also promoting a healthy immune system. By deactivating free radicals, strong antioxidants like curcumin from turmeric can ease pain associated with inflammation. However, it is important to know that not every ingredient works for every person. Here are some of the common active ingredients used in both joint pain supplements and topical creams or gels.

Depending on the level of pain you experience, you may require a particular form of pain relief. For some, a menthol-based topical gel may be all that is required to alleviate pain. For others, a careful routine of oral supplementation using products that contain joint-builder properties may be the best route. This can take up to several weeks to take effect, depending on the supplement itself and dosage instructions.

Getting on your feet

Starting the day with simple and gentle physical activity can counteract joint pain, soothe inflammation and can change how you feel from day to day. Incorporating feel-good stretches into your daily routine can increase flexibility and improve mobility, while also building muscle and strength, as well as lubricating the joints.

If you typically don’t exercise, going for a walk daily is a wonderful alternative to high-impact exercise and decreas- es the risk of “overdoing it,” resulting in an injury. As you get stronger and start feeling better, you can incorporate weight training or other higher-impact activities.

More Inspiration: You might also enjoy this article on the impacts of food on estrogen levels.

Author: Charmaine Millaire was an editor for OptiMyz Magazine and is a graduate of King’s School of Journalism in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


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