With recent research showing healthy testosterone helps guard against everything from heart disease to depression, our male hormone is proving itself pretty flexible. ‘Flexible’ is a perfect word in fact, as it now seems T is key to keeping you the same way.
More than a few notable studies suggest that low testosterone plays a role in chronic joint and back pain.
It may be most famous for causing the right kind of swelling, muscle mass and libido, but imagine T could also help prevent the debilitating kind. It would be a massive, literal relief to millions of sufferers worldwide. About 350 million to be exact.
There are lots of reasons you may have recurring joint or back pain. These can include obvious things like injury, overuse or inactivity; which can be prevented or remedied with regular, sensible exercise. Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis however are much more troublesome and challenging to treat.
It’s this area in particular where taking steps to improve testosterone levels may provide some much needed benefit.
It’s true though! For example, a study from 1996 exploring T therapy as treatment for male arthritis sufferers reported that:
This is based on the fact that there are androgen receptors found in the body’s synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the lubricant we rely on to keep our joints working smoothly. Anywhere you find these receptors hormones like testosterone are needed. So it makes sense it’s required to keep our hinges properly oiled.
1996 may be a while ago now but in the intervening years evidence has continued to point to a link. In 2014, work on the connection between T levels and chances of getting arthritis, produced some interesting findings.
The case control study looked at both men and women, using medical info and blood samples from a population-based health survey. Allowing for differences such as age, body weight and gender, those with the lowest androgen levels were the more likely to develop long term joint pain.
Those with low T who went on to have arthritis tended to see a sharp rise in something called follicle-stimulating hormone just before developing the condition. A spike in this hormone often means a problem with healthy reproduction, which in turn is connected to weak testosterone.
The official conclusion of the research was:
Basically, where there were no other risk factors (RF), low T not only increased the occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but also the severity of symptoms.
In 1989 another study uncovered a genetic relationship between reduced T and poor joint health. It found that subjects with low serum T were more likely to have issues with the gene, HLA. This antigen is vital as, when it doesn’t work correctly, the risk of joint problems – not just arthritis, but Reiter’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis – grows.
A pretty straight line was also drawn between hypogonadism (low T) and joint pain in a study from 2002. 33 out of 104 men with persistent joint pain were found to have clinically poor T levels. A significant proportion. The findings were that low male hormone may have a ‘pathogenic role’ in joint and back problems.
The good news is over the years there have been several important strides made in the treatment of joint pain. Maybe that’s why the T angle has remained under the radar.
At this point I should say if you do suffer from arthritis and have an effective pain management in place, no one’s suggesting you scrap it in favor of TRT or test boosting supplements.
But if making the most of your natural T through healthy diet, sensible exercise and safe supplementation can lower your chances of – or add to relief from – something as difficult as arthritis, it’s got to be worth a try.