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Loss of estrogens causes the association between osteoarthritis and menopause

2 Mar 2012

Estrogens regulate a number of beneficial cellular processes in joint tissue. During menopause, the levels of estrogens decrease, thus leading to changes in the cartilage and subchondral boneOsteoarthritis is a disease under-diagnosed among menopausal women that decreases their quality of lifeIt has been proposed a new classification of primary and/or idiopathic osteoarthritis that will take into account the deficit of estrogens

Prominent physicians and scientists from all across Spain attended the SAMEM, the XII National meeting on Women’s Health and Medical Care, recently held in Madrid. During this meeting, Dr. Santos Castañeda, rheumatologist from the Princesa University Hospital, discussed the relationship between osteoarthritis and menopause-menopause is one of the new factors which can affect the development of osteoarthritis. According to Dr. Santos Castañeda, “the EPISER study has already demonstrated that the prevalence of osteoarthritis experiences a dramatic increase in women older than 45, and that one of the causes might be the loss of estrogens due to the onset of menopause. As such, the role of the one who first detects the initial symptoms of the disease will be the gynacologist, since they are regularly visited by these patients.”

The paper published by their workgroup proposes that perhaps “primary osteoarthritis should be classified into three clearly distinguished subgroups: type 1 osteoarthritis (determined by genetics), type 2 (estrogen-dependent) and type 3 (related to ageing)”. That proposal could lead to the development of more precise therapeutic approaches for every different subgroup of patients. This new classification is currently being discussed by the scientific community. 

This paper also explains the non-pharmacological and pharmacological measures to treat women suffering from osteoarthritis. Rheumatologists and primary care physicians have carried out an extensive review of SYSADOA (Slow Acting Drug for OsteoAarthritis) drugs such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate. Their analysis confirms its efficacy in treating symptoms safely, and received the support of all national and international guidelines of all scientific societies involved in osteoarthritis research. They have also commented on the possibility that these drugs might also influence the course of this disease.

For further information and pictures from the meeting, please go to