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Benefits of Chiropractic Care & Women's Health

As we celebrate women in the month of October, I want to provide insight into the role that hormones play in the musculoskeletal health of women. But first, let’s talk anatomy.  The ligaments and tendons throughout the body play a significant role in “holding the body together.”  Ligaments connect bone to bone and are most prominent in the joints.  For example: the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee attaches from the tibia in the lower leg to the femur in the thigh.  Tendons attach muscle to bone and are found throughout the body, such as the patellar tendon, which attaches the quadriceps muscle group to the tibia in the lower leg.

Hormones are often at the front line when discussing the menstrual cycle and the symptoms associated with PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome.  One of the symptoms often associated with PMS is muscle and joint pain which is often experienced in the low back pain.  Did you know that the low back pain can be a product of the hormonal changes throughout each cycle?

Pregnancy also relies heavily on the hormonal changes that impact our ligaments. As the body progresses through 40 weeks of pregnancy, a hormone called Relaxin increases significantly promoting the ligaments of the pelvis to loosen.  The ligaments stretch even more during active labor allowing the pelvis to widen and accommodate for the baby to pass through the birth canal1.  In this case, it is a blessing that hormones are involved!

On the other hand, there are some potentially negative results from hormones promoting laxity in the ligaments.  In particular our younger female athletic population is at risk for injuries.  Both Estrogen and Relaxin are released at different levels throughout the menstrual cycle.  When the hormones are at an elevated state, the risk of spraining or tearing a ligament increases significantly.   Studies have shown adolescent girls are 4 to 6 times more likely to sustain ACL injury (ligament in the knee) compared to boys.  Furthermore, injury to the ACL increases the risk for early onset osteoarthritis of the knee 10-fold3.

As women age and the body progresses toward menopause the hormones change yet again.  Many women notice an increase in joint pain as they enter the menopausal years.  The hormonal fluctuations experienced through the “life change” can decrease in ligamentous laxity and, therefore, decrease flexibility.  These fluctuations in hormones can also contribute to inflammation in the joints resulting in pain and stiffness2.  Whether young or old, those hormones will affect you!

So women, please take care of yourselves!  Exercise to maintain your strength and promote the integrity of your ligaments; stretch to keep your joints flexible and your muscles lengthened; and get adjusted!  Chiropractic manipulation of the spine can help maintain proper mobility of the joints, reduce inflammation, and stretch the muscles.  Preventative care with routine adjustments can be a powerful tool to help manage the hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman’s lifecycle.  Find out today how we can help!