While there is no definitive answer to this question, testosterone research suggests that there may be a link between testosterone and chronic joint pain. Joint pain can have other causes as well, and they may be unrelated even if a person has low testosterone.
To better understand the potential connections, it helps to understand important factors about testosterone and how it functions in the body. Although most people know that testosterone is a male sex hormone, it also has roles in bone, cartilage, and muscle health. For those who have low testosterone, it helps to know the risks and why it is important to achieve healthy levels of testosterone.
Understanding Chronic Joint Pain and Types
Chronic joint pain is any type of joint pain that recurs and lasts for about six months or longer. Acute joint pain is a type of pain that is short-term and resolves within hours, days, or weeks.
For example, pain from a minor injury is often acute. There are several sources of chronic joint pain, and they are often tied to inflammation.
These are some common types:
- Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Fracture or injury
- Overuse, sprains, or strains
Factors That Affect Chronic Pain and the Role of Testosterone
Now that the types of chronic pain are outlined, it helps to understand a few factors that play a role in joint pain development and persistence. Testosterone can play a role in several bodily functions that also relate to painful conditions. These are the main testosterone connections to understand.
Bones and Testosterone
According to multiple testosterone studies published by the National Institutes of Health, lower testosterone levels are connected to lower bone density. Currently, more testosterone studies are being conducted to investigate the connections between bones and testosterone.
Many of them focus on age-related testosterone reductions. Calcium and phosphorous are two key minerals that the body needs to maintain healthy bones. However, hormone balance is also critical. Even if a person has sufficient phosphorus and calcium levels, an imbalance of testosterone or other hormones that impact bone function can lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Cartilage, Testosterone, and Stress
Cartilage is a connective tissue that exists in joints and throughout other body parts. It is important for functional and structural purposes. Damaged cartilage can leave people more susceptible to:
- Joint damage
Cartilage studies show that men have more cartilage volume than women concerning BMI. Also, testosterone studies show that there are testosterone receptors in cartilage tissue. Since testosterone facilitates healthy cartilage tissue formation, low testosterone can be detrimental to connective tissue.
Stress is an important consideration as well. Physical stress, such as frequent running, can cause impact-related cartilage damage. However, emotional stress can also contribute to the pain people feel from damaged or deteriorating cartilage.
Muscles and Testosterone
When people have muscle pain, they may limp or move incorrectly. As a result, they may suffer joint injuries and damage. Also, some joint conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, often come with both muscle and joint pain.
Testosterone may play a role in muscle health. Researchers found that testosterone helped protect from widespread muscle pain in testosterone studies with mice. In humans, testosterone boosts neurotransmitter production, leading to tissue growth. Also, testosterone helps synthesize protein and increase growth hormone levels to support muscle growth.
Why Is Chronic Joint Pain a Significant Concern?
In many cases, there are contributing factors to joint pain that are treatable. Lower testosterone levels may be a contributor in some people, and there may be other factors.
Treating chronic joint pain is important to prevent worsening problems and to improve quality of life. Research shows that when chronic joint pain is not properly treated, it can lead to several other chronic conditions that cause new problems for a person.
These are some examples:
- Sleep disturbances
- Reduced cognitive function
- Mental health or mood disorders
- Cardiovascular problems
- Sexual dysfunction
Because chronic pain often becomes more complex in its pathophysiology as time passes, it can be harder to treat in the future. It may even contribute to reduced testosterone if the effects lead to a lack of exercise and poor nutrition.
Common Factors That Affect Bone Health
Bone health is one of the most critical elements of addressing chronic joint pain. In addition to the potential mineral deficiencies discussed earlier, there are two other key factors that affect bone health. When a person also has lower testosterone levels, these factors can complicate issues.
Risk Factor: Age
Aging men with testosterone deficiency are more likely to break a bone. Testosterone levels naturally decrease with age and can affect bone density. However, there are other age-related changes that affect bone density.
Unfortunately, many people break or fracture bones before they realize they are losing bone density as they age. When people age, their bodies naturally start to reabsorb phosphorus and calcium instead of distributing the minerals to bones. As a result, bones become thinner and weaker.
Muscle mass helps protect joints and bones. When a person reaches the age of 30, muscle mass often decreases by about 40% over the span of a couple of decades. Low levels of estrogen in women and low levels of testosterone in men are not only age-related problems. Even people who are in their young adult years can experience testosterone or other hormone imbalances.
Risk Factor: Obesity
Research shows that obesity may lead to higher bone density. However, this does not mean that weight gain is advisable. In studies of males and females, obese participants were more likely to suffer fractures of the ankle or lower legs than they were to suffer hip fractures.
Weight gain and obesity can lead to other chronic health issues, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Also, weight gain puts extra stress on joints and cartilage, which can exacerbate joint pain.
Alternately, people who are extremely thin are more likely to have lower bone density and face a greater risk of age-related fractures. This is because they have less bone density to draw from as they age. The key is to maintain a healthy body weight instead of being underweight or obese.
What Is Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone is a term for when the male sex glands do not produce enough testosterone. This condition also called “low T,” affects about 40% of men over 45 in the United States.
Testosterone levels vary significantly throughout the day. As a result, it is hard to determine normal levels of testosterone. Doctors or endocrinologists can perform blood tests to determine if a person has a testosterone deficiency.
These factors can affect testosterone levels:
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
There may be several symptoms associated with low testosterone. These are some potential signs and symptoms of low testosterone:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Low libido and infertility
- Mood disorders
- Reduced concentration or memory
- Muscle mass loss
- Increased body fat
- Breast growth
- Reduced bone mass
- Less body hair
- Mild anemia
Treating Chronic Joint Pain
Chronic joint pain is treatable, and so is low testosterone. The right treatments depend on the underlying cause and contributing risk factors. In addition to medications, chronic joint pain treatment may include:
- Weight management
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Exercise plans
- Special diet plans
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
Finding the Right Treatment for Low Testosterone
Hormone balance is important for long-term health to prevent worsening complications of chronic pain or the development of new chronic conditions. When testosterone is a factor in bone health or joint pain, a doctor may first suggest natural ways of increasing testosterone production.
Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Right for Me?
Hormone replacement therapy involves the use of synthetic or bioidentical hormones to compensate for deficiencies. When the body does not produce adequate testosterone levels through supplements and lifestyle changes, hormone replacement therapy or testosterone replacement therapy may be right.
Women also produce testosterone, and a lack of it can affect them as well. A patient care advocate can work with you to help you determine if you have low testosterone and need testosterone therapy.
Types of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
These are the popular forms of administration for testosterone in therapeutic applications:
- Testosterone pills
- Testosterone injections
- Testosterone patches
- Testosterone topical gels
- Testosterone implants
Choose CA Hormones for Testosterone Replacement Therapy
So, can low testosterone cause joint pain? It is possible, and it is important to treat joint pain and low testosterone at the same time. The team at CA Hormones offers testosterone replacement therapy and other solutions.
We run testosterone blood tests and assess your individual health needs to determine an ideal approach for treating low testosterone. When you work with us, we recommend a custom treatment plan to boost testosterone. To learn more about low testosterone and testosterone treatments in Newport Beach, please contact us.