How to Manage Joint Pain During Menopause? What You Need to Know
Are you suffering from joint pain during menopause? It can be a frustrating and debilitating experience. It’s especially the case when it limits mobility and affects your daily life. But there are effective ways to manage joint pain during this transitional phase. With the right knowledge and strategies, you can regain control of your joint health.
In this guide, we’ll delve into causes, symptoms, and risk factors. All to help you have a more comfortable menopausal journey. We’ll also discuss practical solutions and lifestyle adjustments you can make. Join us as we rediscover the freedom of movement and improve your quality of life.
Causes of Joint Pain During Menopause
Toni Brayer, M.D. attributes the extra pain felt during menopause to aging. After all, it’s expected to have natural wear and tear brought on by declining hormone levels. But she also mentions that these are not the sole reasons.
The Menopause Charity claims the primary culprit of menopausal joint pain is estrogen (aka oestrogen) loss. Estrogen supports Type II collagen production, which is critical for its many benefits. Some are bone loss prevention and muscle mass retention. When its levels drop, there’s an increased risk of bone diseases.
Some of the common bone disorders are osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Many interchange these terms, but they are not the same.
- Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common arthritis, leads to problems in joint function and mobility. This includes joint pain, which is often suffered by those who are at least 50 years old. OA can be a symptom of menopause.
- Meanwhile, osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass and mineral density. It increases fractures and other bone issues. Take note that, unlike joint pain, osteoporosis is a silent disease. You’ll only know when you break a bone.
Along with the female hormones is the decline of testosterone. This natural reduction makes it more difficult for women to maintain muscle strength.
Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting and healing tissues. When menopause triggers an increase in systemic inflammation, the immune system goes haywire. It defends the body around the clock, even if the body doesn’t need it. Chronic inflammation can result in chest pain, fever, and joint pain.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory marker observed in menopausal women with joint pain. You can check if you have a serious health condition that causes inflammation by doing a CRP test.
Many women experience weight gain during menopause. It’s a normal occurrence due to hormonal fluctuations and metabolic changes. The extra weight stresses the joints, particularly the knees and hips. This induces joint pain.
Low Physical Activity
Menopausal symptoms, such as fatigue, hot flashes, and mood changes, affect motivation. This can discourage physical activity. Reduced exercise levels contribute to joint stiffness, muscle weakness, and decreased joint flexibility.
Like other areas of life, family history and genetics play a role in joint health. If you have a family history of joint conditions, you have an increased risk of experiencing joint pain during menopause. Genetic factors influence the structural integrity of joints and their susceptibility to inflammation.
For instance, Pfizer shares that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has a genetic foundation. Meanwhile, 40 to 65% of OA has a genetic component.
Joint Pain Menopause: Symptoms and Diagnosis
Women should be aware of joint pain menopause symptoms and diagnosis. It’s an excellent tool for exploring effective management strategies to help them along the way.
Types of Joint Pain During Menopause
There are over a hundred forms of joint pain, the most common being OA and RA. Yet during menopause, here are some women suffer from the most:
Generalised joint pain
Menopausal joint pain often affects multiple joints. You can expect to feel it simultaneously in your knees, hips, hands, wrists, and shoulders. The pain can vary in intensity and is usually recounted as aching, throbbing, or sharp.
What does menopause joint pain feel like? Many women report it as being the worst after they wake up. They say it eases when they start moving. This stiffness also stretches after prolonged periods of inactivity.
Swelling and inflammation
Inflammation in the joints can lead to swelling, redness, and warmth. The affected joints may feel tender to the touch.
Reduced range of motion
Menopausal joint pain limits flexibility and range of motion in the affected joints. Activities that were once easy and comfortable may become more challenging.
Diagnosing Joint Pain During Menopause
Every woman is unique, and so is her menopausal journey. Still, there are many facets of your life professionals can look into to help you deal with joint paint:
Medical history and physical examination
A healthcare professional will discuss your symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. Expect a physical examination to check joint tenderness, swelling, and range of motion.
Blood tests assess markers of inflammation, like CRP and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). These tests help rule out conditions like RA. They also provide insights into the inflammatory state.
X-rays reveal joint damage, narrowing of joint spaces, and if there’s OA. MRI scans offer more detailed images. It helps assess soft tissue damage and inflammation. Ultrasound scans detect joint inflammation and fluid accumulation.
Joint fluid analysis
In some cases, professionals may suggest joint fluid analysis or arthrocentesis. It involves extracting a small amount of synovial fluid from the affected joint. Then, it looks for signs of inflammation or infection. It can also show crystals associated with conditions like gout.
Joint Pain During Menopause and Treatment Options
A holistic and comprehensive approach is essential to find the right treatment. So, what helps with joint pain during menopause? Here are some you can consider:
Healthcare professionals support conventional therapies. After all, these suggested treatments are globally recognised and used for a reason.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen help ease joint aches and lessen inflammation. Additionally, meds with hyaluronic acid lubricate the joints. They also promote smoother movement and reduce discomfort.
Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT) or Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT)
HRT is the most effective solution for menopausal symptoms, including joint pain. But there are potential risks corresponding with long-term use. In fact, the National Cancer Institute revealed HRT increases strokes and cancers.
Have an in-depth dialogue with your healthcare provider first before using HRT. Assess the benefits, compare them to the risk, and focus on your specific situation.
Anything outside of traditional medicine methods falls under alternative therapies. The following can provide complementary relief for joint pain during menopause:
Applying heat or cold packs to affected joints eases pain and brings inflammation down. Engaging in gentle exercises, such as yoga or swimming, also improve joint flexibility. It even strengthens supporting muscles. Plus, maintaining a healthy weight is essential to reduce stress on the joints.
Several herbs have been a part of long-established practices or customs in easing menopausal joint pain. There’s a limit to scientific research involved for each. But anecdotal evidence suggests their potential benefits. Here are some herbs mentioned:
- Devil’s Claw first appeared in 1990s Europe. Today it’s used in France and Germany to relieve headaches, back pain, and inflammation.
- Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce joint disability and pain.
- Curcumin in turmeric is an active compound that relieves stiffness and OA. A 2021 study also suggests that it’s superior to NSAIDs.
- Boswellia, or Indian frankincense, has anti-inflammatory and analgesic aspects. Moreover, it’s great for cartilage and the immune system.
- Topical application of stinging nettle suggests lower arthritis and joint pain. It can also flush out uric acid and can be in tea form.
Incorporating these herbs into your diet may offer some relief. Still, it’s best to consult your doctor before changing what’s on your plate. Even more so when you have underlying health conditions or take other medications.
Several supplements have shown the potential to lower joint pain during menopause. The Arthritis Foundation writes that glucosamine and chondroitin may help support joint health. Meanwhile, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. Check for these ingredients when looking for the best supplements for menopausal joint pain.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) handles many biological functions, including memory, growth, and reproduction. A 2019 study about ECS and estrogen proved that the two are very involved. But how does CBD connect to them? CBD links to ECS receptors and make them more effective. It also shields and preserves endocannabinoids to keep these neurotransmitters in prime condition.
And so it goes without saying that CBD creams and oils look promising as alternatives. Other benefits of CBD products include being antioxidative and anti-inflammatory. This, in particular, helps women experiencing perimenopause and menopause aches.
Below is more information about common menopausal pains:
Menopause and Back Pain
During menopause, back pain is a common complaint. To manage back pain, consider:
Maintaining good posture
Proper body alignment and ergonomic support lessen the strain on the back. It also improves circulation so the body is better oxygenated.
Core and back exercises
Back and core-strengthening exercises provide stability and support to the spine. Pilates and yoga underscore low-impact but controlled movements and improve balance and flexibility.
Implementing proper body mechanics is crucial. Learning how to stand, sit, etc., in the correct manner helps avoid overtaxing the body. This prevents injuries and other problems such as back pain.
Menopause and Knee Pain
Knee pain during menopause may be because of hormonal changes. But it can also be inflammation or other underlying conditions like OA. To manage knee pain, do:
Try activities like swimming or cycling. They can improve joint mobility and reduce knee pain. All without placing excessive stress on the joints.
Of course, keeping at a healthy weight is vital. Doing this minimizes the load on the knees and lessens strain. looking for the best supplements for menopausal joint pain.
Do exercises that target the muscles around the knees. Consider leg lifts or squats, and do them in moderation. They enhance joint stability and relieve knee pain.
Menopause Joint Pain Relief
Managing menopausal joint pain involves a combination of strategies that work best for you. Some particular tips are:
Dealing with Menopause Joint Pain Through Diet
- Limit carbohydrates and sugars. Foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugars may trigger chronic inflammation. This will only worsen joint pain. Opt for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables instead.
- Increase your omega-3 fatty acids intake. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory assets to help reduce joint pain. Add fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds in your diet.
Dealing with Menopause Joint Pain Through Exercise
- Stay active. According to Toni Brayer, M.D., keeping the joints in top condition requires regular use. As we age, our activity levels tend to decline, leading to weight gain and joint stiffness. Incorporate consistent physical activity into your routine. Even short walks or jogs.
- Do stretching exercises. Stretching helps improve joint flexibility and increases the circulation of synovial fluid. This lubricates and nourishes the joints. Consider gentle stretching exercises in your day to reduce joint pain and maintain mobility.
Dealing with Menopause Joint Pain Through De-stressing
- Manage stress levels. Chronic stress triggers the release of cortisol, fittingly, the stress hormone. It can exacerbate inflammation and joint pain. Explore stress reduction techniques to counter this. Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness. You should also engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation.
Menopause Joint Pain, Does It Go Away?
Sadly, even if your hormones are at the right level, joint pain may still persist. But following through with lifestyle changes and other solutions makes managing the pain easier. Making these adjustments will also prevent it from worsening.
Conclusion: Taking Control of Joint Pain During Menopause
Managing joint pain during menopause is a multifaceted attempt. It requires understanding, proactive measures, and personalised approaches.
In this article, we’ve discussed its causes, symptoms, and treatments to handle the pain. Always remember that it’s best to have healthcare professionals guide you. Additionally, many resources are available at the tips of your finger, and you’re not alone in this journey.
What treatment do you think will work best for you?
Are you prone to arthritis? Check out Preventing Arthritis: 9 Simple Tips for Menopausal Women