Sleep Apnea Linked to Joint Pain in Postmenopausal Women
written by/ March 26, 2022
It’s a well-known fact that postmenopausal women are prone to negative physiological changes (e.g., sleep apnea, joint pain, etc.) more than their non-menopausal counterparts.
For example, postmenopausal women are especially vulnerable to developing sleep apnea (the most common type of which is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)), an insidious sleep-related breathing condition that hinders restful sleep, often warranting the use of CPAP machines as a form of treatment.
According to statistics, the incidence of sleep apnea is a staggering 4.5 times higher in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women.
But there’s a new twist to the story — a recent study published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society found that sleep apnea and joint pain might be interconnected.
The study results showed a strong association between the severity of sleep apnea and the severity of joint pain in postmenopausal women.
But what’s the connection between these two conditions?
The answer may lie in hormone changes. Namely, joint tissues have estrogen receptors that maintain the health and the working order of muscles, cartilage, and ligaments. And it’s a well-known fact that estrogen levels drop in menopause.
Furthermore, sleep apnea in postmenopausal women might be triggered by a drop in sex steroid levels.
The significance of these findings is reflected in shedding light on a new symptom (joint pain) that could help diagnose OSA, reducing the number of women who go undiagnosed.
Timely diagnosis is of utmost importance, as sleep apnea is one of the risk factors for hypertension, diabetes, and the progression of CVD, the number one cause of death in the world.