Skip to main content

Women with weak leg muscles are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis

Women with weak leg muscles are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritisAccording to researchers, women with weak thighs and hamstrings have an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. Of course, leg muscle exercise is important for preventing this condition, but adequate nutrient intake and maintenance of the right body weight also contribute. For those who are already affected by knee osteoarthritis, glucosamine supplements can be useful. Make sure to choose glucosamine sulfate and to stick with glucosamine supplements that are listed as medical drugs if you want to be sure to obtain the desired effect.

An estimated 50% of all people older than 40 years of age, and everyone from 60 years onward, have some degree of osteoarthritis. The disease takes many years to develop, and many people do not even have pain, or their pain varies in such a way that it gets worse during the winter, in the morning, or when the affected joint is burdened.
Because osteoarthritis eventually gets to all of us, it is an advantage to know more about the disease and to learn how to prevent and treat it.

Having weak leg muscles increases a woman’s risk of knee osteoarthritis by 47%

A new study that is published in the science journal Arthritic Care and Research shows that women should pay special attention to strengthening their leg muscles, as women with lacking strength in their quadriceps (knee extensors) are 47% more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis compared with women who have strong quadriceps. Similarly, women with weak hamstrings are 41% more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis. 161 adults with osteoarthritis and 186 adults without the condition participated in the study that included both women and men. However, the scientists did not observe the same relation between muscle strength and osteoarthritis among men, suggesting that hormonal factors may be at play.

Did you know that knee osteoarthritis can cause pain in your hips, back, or give you a headache because of skewed gait or posture?

Menopause and decreasing estrogen levels affect muscle strength

As mentioned, the risk of osteoarthritis increases with age. Once a woman reaches her menopause, levels of the female sex hormone estrogen drop. This hormone has a protective effect on both the cardiovascular system and the muscles. In other words, the decreasing estrogen production may lead to impaired muscle function. It is therefore vital for women to stay in good shape after menopause. Science also knows that physical activity has many of the same positive health effects as estrogen does. As part of ones attempt to prevent knee osteoarthritis, it is therefore highly relevant to stay physically fit and, not least, to strengthen the thigh muscles. The researchers even claim that obesity plays a role in knee osteoarthritis because of the huge load on the weight-bearing joints. This is why it is so important to avoid overweight.

Did you know that physical activity has many of the same positive effects as estrogen does?

Vitamin D and Q10 may help optimize muscle strength

A recent study from the University of Birmingham shows that increased amounts of vitamin D may help optimize muscle strength. A good idea is to expose yourself to plenty of sunshine during the summer (without burning), and many scientists even recommend high-dosed vitamin D supplements in the winter.
Two independent cohort studies have shown a link between the body’s Q10 status and muscle strength. Q10 is a co-enzyme that helps control cellular energy metabolism. We humans synthesize most of our Q10 ourselves, but our endogenous synthesis decreases, as we grow older. It is possible to compensate for this loss with help from a Q10 supplement.

It takes many years for osteoarthritis to develop

Osteoarthritis causes slow deterioration of the articular cartilage, exposing the bone ends and making them grind against each other. As a way of compensating for the missing cartilage, the bone tissue develops protrusions or growths (bone spurs), while ligaments and joint capsules become thicker, and muscle and tendons become weaker. Because there are no nerves in articular cartilage, the pain typically originates from surrounding tissues as a result of pressure on the bone, inflammation, tension and infiltration. If osteoarthritis has already developed, it may be worthwhile to try taking glucosamine.

Experts recommend glucosamine sulfate as first-line therapy against osteoarthritis

There are vast quality difference differences from one form of glucosamine to another. Glucosamine products based on glucosamine hydrochloride have not demonstrated the same positive effects as those with glucosamine sulfate. Nonetheless, even studies conducted with glucosamine sulfate have led to contrasting results.
According to a report issued by ESCEO (European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis), a financially independent European expert group, glucosamine sulfate supplements should be first-line treatment for osteoarthritis before resorting to pain-relieving medication that is associated with serious side effects and death. The researchers even found that glucosamine sulfate inhibits interleukin-1, which is known to cause inflammation and joint damage.
What the experts also point to is the importance of choosing glucosamine sulfate preparations that are registered as medical drugs. As opposed to food supplements with glucosamine, the drug versions are able to document that they contain a pharmaceutical-grade raw material that works as expected and does not contain any potentially harmful contaminants.

A European expert group (ESCEO) recommends glucosamine sulfate instead of pain-relieving medication. One reason is that glucosamine counteracts cartilage deterioration, which is the underlying cause of osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine sulfate and its expected effect

Glucosamine sulfate is primarily made from shellfish. Most studies have used glucosamine doses of around 1,200 – 1,500 mg daily. People normally feel pain relief or improved joint function after around 2-6 weeks but in some cases, it takes as long as three months. As long as glucosamine sulfate works within an eight-week period, it is feasible to continue using the supplement to maintain joint cartilage. If, however, no improvement is observed within eight weeks of daily use, there is no reason to continue taking the product. It is also possible to take smaller doses of glucosamine for prevention. This is especially relevant for older people or for those with a family history of osteoarthritis, or those who have burdened their joints for many years.

Did you know that glucosamine sulfate helps rebuild articular cartilage while inhibiting pain and inflammation?


Culvenor AG et al. Thigh muscle specific strength and the risk of incident knee osteoarthritis: The influence of sex and greater body mass index. PubMed 2017

Michael Nyberg, M et al. Leg vascular and skeletal muscle mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic high-intensity exercise training are enhanced in the early postmenopausal phase. Journal of Physiology 2017.

University of Birmingham. Increased levels of active vitamin D can help to optimize muscle strength. ScienceDaily 2017

Fischer Alexandra et al. Coenzyme Q10, Status as a Determinant of Muscular Strength in Two Independent Cohorts. PLoS One 2016

Nelson AE et al.: A systematic review of recommendations and guidelines for the management of osteoarthritis: The Chronic Osteoarthritis Management Initiative of the U.S Bone and Joint initiative. PubMed 2014

Keld Østergaard. Glukosaminsulfat. Medi-Com 2003

Glucosamine Sulfate vs Glucosamine HCL

A review of glucosamine for knee osteoarthritis: why patented crystalline glucosamine sulfate should be differentiated from other glucosamines to maximize clinical outcomes - Current Medical Research and Opinion -

  • Created on .