Does gender affect orthopedic injuries and conditions? The simple answer is: you bet it does. Consider the differences and where women are at higher risk and experience conditions exclusive or largely related to gender. More important, let’s look at how women can prevent risk.
Feet and Ankles
With 26 bones and 33 ligaments, so much can go wrong on both men and women. While genetics is a factor, women are two times more likely to experience foot injuries than men. So, what’s the variance? Those shoes! Stiletto heels … flip flops … pointy toes … any of these can cause a number of painful conditions like hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, bunions, poor posture, back pain and ankle strain. What to do? Be sure to stretch your calf muscles daily, opt for wedges when you want height, look for shoes with support, and alternate heel heights daily. Check out Vionic.com for some stylish, yet practical choices.
Women have a higher risk for ACL tears than men. There are several theories as to why, however a common belief is that the space in a woman’s knee is narrower, leaving it at greater risk than men. Strengthening exercises like seated leg raises, side-lying leg raises, and calf raises may help. Always check with your physician prior to starting any exercise routine.
Women are more prone to experience headaches, particularly tension headaches and chronic migraines. Of headache sufferers in the U.S., 70% have a family history of headaches and for chronic migraines, 85% are women. Among the reasons, aside from genetics, are diet, allergies, stress, sound, hormonal changes, and posture. There are multiple treatments for headaches including Botox injections of the head and neck to relax muscles. An Interventional Pain Management Physician can determine if you are a candidate.
This topic is common with women. Carrying a large shoulder bag can throw your body out Botof alignment causing multiple conditions. “Heavy Purse Syndrome” can create shoulder and neck pain from muscle overuse. It can also throw your entire body out of position and affect your gait. A change in posture may lead to falls. There are a few things you can do to avoid discomfort: Use a wide strap for your bag and frequently alternate sides for carrying. Remove items you don’t need … do you really need to carry your partner’s keys or all those pens and candy? Make sure your bag weighs no more than 10 pounds.
Back and Neck
Back and neck pain may be related to any number of reasons including a too-heavy purse, poorly fitting shoes, or weak muscles. Even frequent texting lowers your neck and can put extra pressure on your neck and spine … it’s good to follow mom’s wise words, “Sit up straight”! When lifting heavy objects be sure to lift properly by maintaining a wide base of support at your feet, squatting from the knees and hips (NOT at the waist), and maintaining a straight back. Pregnant women are more susceptible to low back pain due to swelling tissues along with changes in the musculoskeletal system. If a woman has back pain prior to pregnancy, she is two times more likely to experience it during the pregnancy.
Osteopenia / Osteoporosis
Lastly, the aging process may sometimes be unkind. Osteoporosis is a common condition affecting over 10 million Americans. Of those, 80% are women. It is predicted that one in two women over the age of 50 with osteoporosis will eventually break a bone. What to do? Exercise and diet play a significant role in keeping bones healthy.
What’s a girl to do? The good news is that YOU are in control. Keep these helpful hints in mind:
- Strengthen your muscles with exercise
- Watch your diet and maintain an optimum weight
- Practice good posture
- Empty out that purse
- Wear smart shoes with support
- Lift properly
- Use a cross body purse instead of a shoulder bag
- See your physician if discomfort persists
One small change can make a huge difference. Be well!
Sarasota Orthopedic Associates has three locations and offers same day / next day appointments when needed. Our commitment is to get our patients back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life.