When you think about joint pain, your mind may automatically connect it to arthritis (which is the swelling of joints). However, arthritis is not the only cause of joint pain. Low testosterone can also contribute to joint pain. Therefore, your doctor will have to run different tests to determine whether this pain is due to arthritis, low testosterone, or some other condition.
This article explains the connection between joint pain and low testosterone in detail and what can be done to help improve your testosterone levels to keep your joints functioning well.
What exactly is low testosterone
To understand how joint pain is linked to low testosterone, let’s first see what this condition is.
Low testosterone is a condition in which your body does not produce the normal amount of testosterone. The normal testosterone range is 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Having testosterone lower than 300 ng/dL means you have a low testosterone condition.
Older men naturally have a low testosterone concentration. However, this condition can occur in younger men too. As testosterone performs various functions in a man’s body, its low concentration can have a negative impact on your overall health. Testosterone is involved in regulating sex drive, maintaining bone mass, protecting joint cartilage, and increasing muscle mass, etc.
Signs of low testosterone
Below are the common symptoms of low testosterone.
- Low sex drive
- Feeling tired of the time
- Depression and anxiety
- Low muscle mass
- Weight gain
- Loss of body hair
ADAM Questionnaire and Low Testosterone
Taking the ADAM questionnaire is one way to find out if you potentially have low testosterone, is it known to have an 88% screening accuracy rate in detecting if you have low testosterone.
Low testosterone and joint pain – What’s the connection?
As described earlier, testosterone performs different functions in the body. It fails to play its role the right way when your body does not make enough of it.
One of the roles of testosterone is protecting cartilage from damage and inflammation. Cartilage is a connective tissue that is present throughout the body, including joints. When it gets damaged, it can lead to joint pain, swelling, and some degree of inability to move the joint.
Studies also prove the effect of testosterone on cartilage. Some studies also show that men with low testosterone are at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in the near future. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain and inflammation of joints. In the UK, more than 10 million people have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. So, if low testosterone is one of the causes of this illness, then restoring levels of testosterone may reduce the risks of developing it.
Low testosterone can also lead to other conditions like obesity and osteoporosis, which can further become a cause of joint pain or bone issue. Let’s see how low testosterone causes joint pain indirectly.
Low testosterone and osteoporosis
If you stay deficient in testosterone for a longer period, your chances of developing osteoporosis become very high. Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bone density decreases, and your bones become prone to fractures. It is diagnosed through a bone mineral density test in which your bone mineral density is compared with the normal bone mineral density.
Although osteoporosis produces no joint pain, its severe condition can lead to other painful conditions which may feel like joint pain. However, you do not have to bear this pain. Look for ways to increase bone density. Removing testosterone deficiency may help you fight off osteoporosis and have stronger bones again.
Low testosterone and weight gain
Low testosterone can indirectly cause joint pain by increasing your body weight. Studies show that men with low density have a high body fat percentage compared to men with normal testosterone levels. It can further cause gynecomastia, a condition in which men develop enlarged breasts. The main reason behind it is the imbalance between estrogen and testosterone.
Increased body weight will put more pressure on your bones and joints, which will weaken them and may lead to joint pain. It is also known to cause osteoarthritis, which is the most abundant form of arthritis. It causes joint stiffness and pain. Around 8.5 million people in the UK have this illness.
The good news is there are treatments and several ways to increase testosterone levels and control your body weight. You should consult with a doctor to find the main reason behind your weight gain.
How to increase low testosterone?
Testosterone deficiency can happen due to various reasons like an injury, cancer, hormonal imbalance, etc. However, you can still increase your testosterone levels by bringing a few lifestyle changes, eating testosterone-boosting foods, and getting a treatment like testosterone replacement therapy.
The natural ways to increase your testosterone levels include:
- Doing high-intensity exercises, weight lifting, or any form of exercise regularly.
- Reducing stress and preventing elevation of cortisol levels.
- Getting some sun to increase your vitamin D levels or take vitamin D supplements.
- Getting rest and sleeping at least 8 hours a day.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
You can also boost testosterone levels by eating foods that have vitamin D and zinc in abundance. Examples of such foods are tuna, egg yolk, shellfish, beef, oyster, fortified cereals, and beans.
One of the widely used methods of elevating testosterone levels is testosterone replacement therapy. In this treatment, your testosterone levels are restored via testosterone injections, oral formulations, gels, patches, and pellets.
The right treatment for low testosterone and joint pain
Even though testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) will not directly repair your joints and reduce pain, it will elevate your testosterone levels, preventing further deterioration of joints. If you are suffering from joint pain, then you should first talk to your doctor to find the underlying cause behind this issue.
If it is due to low testosterone, then your doctor may recommend testosterone replacement therapy. Each man has unique hormone balance requirements. An experienced practitioner can help you find your target hormone levels and design a custom treatment strategy according to your needs.
After getting your testosterone levels restored, you will feel more energized and less joint pain. But know that it is important to integrate healthy lifestyle practices for better rehabilitation. A professional practitioner will guide you on how to maintain your bone density and prevent the same joint problem in future. By following the plan and procedure designed by your practitioner, you will soon be able to enjoy your life once again.
How can testosterone replacement therapy help with joint pain?
After bringing testosterone levels back into normal ranges, you will notice many positive effects on your overall health. These effects or changes may help you with joint pain in the following ways.
By helping with the weight management
TRT will remove testosterone deficiency. So, your body will have enough of this hormone to increase muscle mass and redistribute body fat. If you pair this treatment with healthy lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, you will soon see a significant reduction in your calories level and body weight. Lower body weight means lower stress and pressure on joints. So, eventually, your joints may regain their strength and health.
By making you more active
One of the symptoms of low testosterone is fatigue which can make it hard to perform different exercises. People notice a significant transition in their energy levels after getting their testosterone levels restored. This, too, can be very helpful in reducing weight and joint pain. Through exercise, you will not only be able to strengthen your bones but also your muscles. Stronger bones and muscles will support your achy joint and may help you repair them.
By promoting the formation of cartilage repair cells
Studies show that testosterone is involved in the differentiation of chondrocytes (cells present in the cartilage). Cartilage is present at the end of bones to create a cushion-like structure that prevents friction between joint surfaces. Damaged cartilage can cause joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. So stimulating the production of chondrocytes by increasing levels of testosterone can help you repair damaged cartilage as well as achy joints.
By stimulating your natural pain relief system
Testosterone plays an important role in operating the natural relief system of your body. Your body produces endorphins when you experience physical pain. These endorphins act as natural opioids. Testosterone may assist these endorphins in binding with the endorphin receptors to relieve pain. Therefore, it may reduce your joint pain.
There are many causes of joint pain and one of them is low testosterone. If you are experiencing joint pain, then you should visit your doctor to find the underlying cause behind this issue. If the cause is low testosterone, then getting testosterone replacement therapy may be the right choice. If you believe you may have a hormone imbalance, take our quick 60 second hormone quiz by clicking the button below.
- Weight Management and Low T | Everyday Health
- Full article: Testosterone replacement therapy improves the health-related quality of life of men diagnosed with late-onset hypogonadism (tandfonline.com)
- Association between testosterone levels and risk of future rheumatoid arthritis in men: a population-based case–control study | Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (bmj.com)
- Protective effect of androgens against inflammation induced cartilage degradation in male rodents. (nih.gov)
- Low Testosterone Linked to Later Arthritis in Study – WebMD