Tired of waking up with sore and achy knees, wrists, ankles, and other joints? Low testosterone may be to blame. Low testosterone levels can cause a number of symptoms — including joint pain, stiffness, and numbness — that impact your quality of life and overall health.
Living with chronic pain can have a tremendous impact on your day-to-day life, preventing you from engaging in the activities you enjoy, pain-free. While joint pain is a common complaint amongst older adults, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may help. Read on to learn how TRT may help reduce joint pain, helping restore your quality of life.
What Is Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone (male hypogonadism) occurs when the testes do not produce enough testosterone, the primary male sex hormone.
Low testosterone affects 4 to 5 million men in the United States. Nearly 40% of all men aged 45 and older are affected by low T. Testosterone levels begin to decline each year after 30 years.
Though more common in older men, even young men, children, and babies can have low testosterone levels.
What Causes Low Testosterone?
There are two types of hypogonadism (low testosterone), primary and secondary.
Primary hypogonadism is caused by a problem in the testicles. It can be inherited or caused by damage to the testicles.
Inherited conditions associated with hypogonadism include:
- Hemochromatosis. High levels of iron in the blood can lead to pituitary damage or testicular failure.
- Undescended testicles. Occurs when the testicles do not descend from the abdomen before a baby boy is born.
- Klinefelter’s syndrome. Occurs when a male is born with three sex chromosomes: X, X, and Y.
Damage to the testicles can also lead to primary hypogonadism. This includes:
- Cancer treatment. Chemotherapy and/or radiation can damage testicles and affect testosterone levels.
- Physical injury. The injury must cause damage to both testicles to have an effect on testosterone levels.
- Mumps orchitis. Mumps can lead to testicle injury that interferes with testosterone production.
Secondary hypogonadism points to a problem in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. The hypothalamus signals to the pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). LH then prompts the testes to produce testosterone.
Secondary hypogonadism can be inherited or caused by disease, including:
- Inflammatory diseases that affect the pituitary gland and hypothalamus (e.g., tuberculosis)
- Kallman syndrome
- Pituitary disorders caused by tumors, kidney failure, or drug use
Other circumstances can also lead to secondary hypogonadism, including:
- Aging. Men’s testosterone levels naturally decline by approximately 1% every year after turning 30, and the decrease also occurs in postmenopausal women
- Concurrent illness. Physical and emotional stress from surgery or illness can shut down the reproductive system temporarily
- Obesity. Extra weight can affect hormone production and cause hormonal imbalance and dysfunction
- Medications. Opioids, for example, can affect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland functions over time
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can help address issues caused by low testosterone in men with primary and secondary hypogonadism.
Common Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone symptoms vary, depending on the age of the person experiencing the issue. In adult males, low testosterone can cause the following symptoms:
- Depression and anxiety
- Erectile dysfunction
- Gynecomastia (development of breasts on males)
- Hair loss
- High blood pressure
- Increased body fat
- Joint pain
- Low libido
- Loss of focus
- Memory problems
- Weakness/ loss of muscle mass
Though testosterone is a male sex hormone, low testosterone levels can affect far more than a man’s sex drive — this condition can affect many aspects of your health, including bone density, and should be addressed with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend testosterone replacement therapy to help reduce symptoms and restore your health.
Why Does Low Testosterone Cause Joint Pain?
If you’re feeling stiff, inflexible, have trouble moving around, or have to sit on the sidelines rather than engaging in your favorite activities as you climb the numbers in age, low testosterone may be the culprit.
Testosterone (along with other androgens) has a number of jobs in the body, including preventing inflammation and damage to the cartilage. This means that when your testosterone levels are low, you are at greater risk of joint pain and inflammation. One study found that low testosterone levels may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in men.
Many people with joint pain can’t be as physically active as they’d like to be. This can lead to weight gain, which puts even more strain on the joints.
Research shows that testosterone replacement therapy may reduce joint pain and prevent cartilage/joint damage in men with a testosterone deficiency. Not only that, but TRT was found to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, body weight, and waist circumference in men who have age-related low testosterone levels.
Another study offers hope for men with joint pain associated with low testosterone. At the start of this 5-year study, 58% of participants reported experiencing joint pain. After only 3 months of TRT, only 46% of participants reported joint pain. After 9 months, that number fell dramatically to only 22%. At the end of the study (5 years), only 1% had joint pain after using TRT.
How Does TRT Reduce Joint Pain?
Testosterone replacement therapy can help restore your testosterone levels within a healthy range. This has many positive effects on the body, including reducing joint pain. Experts believe that TRT helps reduce joint pain in the following ways:
Low testosterone levels can lead to a loss in muscle mass and an increase in body fat, leading to unwanted weight gain. Extra weight can put stress on the body’s joints and lead to pain. Obesity can lead to an increased risk for many weight-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis.
TRT can help you increase muscle mass and burn fat. When coupled with eating a healthy diet, testosterone may help you shed weight, relieving your joints of added stress and pressure from carrying around extra pounds.
Boost Energy Levels
Many men with low testosterone levels report feeling fatigued and moody. This can make it difficult to want to exercise, particularly if you’re dealing with joint pain.
Many men report feeling an increased sense of vitality and energy boost after starting hormone therapy. This helps individuals with low testosterone to feel more motivated to participate in physical activities and exercise.
Though it can be challenging to exercise with joint pain, sometimes activity can be a key to reducing pain. Along with weight loss, exercises such as walking and swimming can help keep your body (and joints!) moving to reduce pain.
Stimulate Cartilage Repair Cells
Testosterone has a direct effect on the health of your cartilage — the padding between joints and bones.
If you’re dealing with joint pain caused by low testosterone, testosterone injections may stimulate the production of chondrocytes — cells found in healthy cartilage tissue (e.g., joints).
When cartilage breaks down, it can lead to pain, inflammation, and swelling, as your bones are grinding together, no longer protected by the padding cartilage normally provides. Testosterone promotes the production of these chondrocytes, which may help your body repair damaged cartilage and reduce joint pain.
What Are the Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy can help restore and optimize your hormone levels to improve the symptoms associated with low testosterone.
Along with helping improve your joint health and reducing pain, TRT offers a number of health benefits in men with low testosterone levels, including:
- Better sleep
- Boost in energy
- Decreased body fat
- Improved libido/sex drive
- Improved cognitive functioning (e.g., learning, memory)
- Increased confidence
- Increased muscle mass, bone mass, and strength
- Lower cholesterol
- Positive mood
- Reduce joint pain
In addition to these benefits, TRT can help reduce the risk of developing age-related and obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis.
At Elite HRT, a provider will perform a physical examination and order blood work (lab work) to find your current testosterone levels and determine if TRT is right for you.
Where Can I Get Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
If you notice you have symptoms of low testosterone, the first step is to contact your healthcare provider to share your symptoms and ask for a hormone level test; they may also order other tests to rule out the possibility of other health conditions with similar symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy to help address your symptoms and restore your health, and if you experience side effects like headache or nausea, your dose can be adjusted.
At Elite HRT, we have specialists with extensive knowledge of hormone replacement therapies. Our caring, knowledgeable team will ask about your medical history, provide a physical examination, and order blood tests in order to develop your personalized treatment plan.
Once this plan is in place, your hormone replacement therapy will be delivered to your home along with instructions on how to administer the medication.
If you’re struggling with symptoms of low testosterone, TRT offers hope for a better tomorrow.
At Elite HRT, our doctors are here to help determine the cause of your low testosterone and offer personalized treatment to help reduce joint pain, improve your health, boost your energy levels, and help you get your life back so you can do the things you enjoy.
Get started today by filling out our Medical History Form — we’re happy to do our best to help restore your health and vitality.
Prevalence, Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypogonadism in Primary Care Practice | Boston University School of Medicine
Low Testosterone | Cleveland Clinic
Association between testosterone levels and risk of future rheumatoid arthritis in men: a population-based case-control study| BMJ Journals
Long-term testosterone treatment in elderly men with hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction reduces obesity parameters and improves metabolic syndrome and health-related quality of life | National Library of Medicine
Testosterone replacement therapy improves the health-related quality of life of men diagnosed with late-onset hypogonadism | NCBI
Gender-specific, maturation-dependent effects of testosterone on chondrocytes in culture | National Library of Medicine