What Role Does Gender Play in Knee Osteoarthritis?

More than 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, with knee osteoarthritis the most common form of the disease. Many osteoarthritis patients seek out massage therapy for relief from pain and stiffness, and previous research shows massage benefits osteoarthritis sufferers.

New research is underway to determine if gender plays a role in the pain and inflammation experienced by knee osteoarthritis sufferers.

The Society for Women’s Health Research and its Interdisciplinary Studies in Sex-Differences Network on Musculoskeletal Health has awarded a group of researchers a $127,000 grant to lead a pilot project to understand whether biological differences between men and women affect the incidence and severity of knee osteoarthritis, according to a press release from the Mayo Clinic.

“Knee osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability in the U.S., and women have greater pain and reductions in function and quality of life from this condition than do men,” said Mary O’Connor, M.D., chair of the clinic’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery. “Knee osteoarthritis is also more common in women than men.”

While the underlying mechanisms for differences in knee osteoarthritis between men and women are not yet known, recent studies have indicated sex differences at the cellular and molecular levels may influence development of the disease, O’Connor said. Answers could provide valuable clues for more effective treatment and possible prevention, she added.

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