Has a connection ever been made between hormones and osteoarthritis?
Q) Has a connection ever been made between hormones and osteoarthritis? I was on HRT for nine years and although I did have some slight symptoms of arthritis they didn't seem to come to the fore until I came off it. My knee then quickly became a problem and I ended up with a knee replacement. This alleviated the problem of pain but I was also beginning to get some symptoms in the other knee. I've been taking tamoxifen for three months now and suddenly realised that I'm in much less pain than previously. I'm now 69.
Pauline Wooster, Overton, Hampshire (Autumn 2008)
A) The symptoms of osteoarthritis often become prominent in the early menopause. There were several very promising studies in the late 1990s suggesting a relationship between hormones and osteoarthritis but these were only preliminary and the connection hasn't been subsequently proven in a proper clinical trial. Therefore, although it's possible that HRT could be beneﬁcial for osteoarthritis the evidence is lacking at present. And HRT has had a bad press for other reasons (breast cancer and heart disease), so that it's not recommended as a way of preventing arthritis based on current evidence. Tamoxifen interferes with oestrogen (the female hormone) receptors but may have other mechanisms whereby it has beneﬁcial effects in arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.