The menopause causes huge changes to your body, there is a log list of common symptoms that crop up as you’re going through it, even if you're on hormone replacement therapy. Hot flushes, low mood, night sweats, a drop in bone density and aching joints is something thousands of menopausal women go through as their hormone levels decline.
Fear not though, as there are lots of things you can do to get some joint pain relief. Let’s get into it!
What is joint pain
Joint pain can include pain and discomfort as well as inflammation and swelling around any part of a joint. This includes cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons, or muscles. It can strike at any part of the body, although usually the knees, shoulders, neck, elbows, hands, and spine are the most affected.
If you’ve previously injured a particular part of your body, pain is much more likely to radiate around these joints due to your previous trauma. It’s also likely that the pain will increase as you grow older, as you lose bone density and muscle mass.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation and pain in joints. The immune system attacks the tissue around joints which produces fluid to keep them flexible.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is the time when the ovaries are no longer releasing eggs, you don't have a menstrual cycle and your oestrogen levels drop with each passing year. Menopause usually happens between the ages of 50 and 55, but it can sometimes happen earlier. Menopausal women will experience many menopause symptoms as the years go by, including aches and pains.
What is menopause joint pain
You have estrogen receptors (oestrogen) all over your body. It supports your overall health and many functions including bone growth, heart health, gut health, mood regulation and it also reduces inflammation.
When oestrogen or estrogen levels drop in menopause, it results in menopause symptoms which include anxiety, sleeplessness, night sweats, mood swings and hot flushes as well as other symptoms and for some menopausal women this includes musculoskeletal aches.
For many women, lower oestrogen levels in menopause also leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Menopausal arthritis symptoms include aches and stiffness around the joint, which often feels warm to the touch. Larger joints are more likely to be affected with chronic pain such as tight hips and sore knees.
How to protect against menopause joint pain
When it comes to treatment options The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to reduce inflammation, improve joint health and relieve joint pain in menopause including menopausal joint pain. Here are some of our top tips.
By keeping muscles flexible and strong you can protect yourself from musculoskeletal aches. Strong muscles help to support your skeleton and joints, helps to maintain your posture and alignment to help you move well. Stretching helps to ease joint pain as it lubricates your joints and improves your range of motion.
You can try out some light stretches in the safety of your own home, Bupa's Waking up stretching routine has loads of great tips to help get you started. Applying heat to the area that’s in pain can help to relax your muscles before you start up, while ice applied to your joints afterward reduces inflammation.
Weight bearing exercises
Although it may feel counter-intuitive at first, weight bearing exercises can help to reduce joint pains as it strengthens ligaments, muscles and joints. Body weight, hand held weights and resistance bands can all help to build strength, support bone density and exercise your heart too. The Arthritis Foundation lists 16 Ways To Keep Joints Healthy
Avoid excess weight gain
Menopause weight gain puts extra pressure on your joints, it's one of the first things you should focus on if you want to reduce joint aches in menopause. Menopausal symptoms can include higher cortisol levels which can pack on unwanted fat.
More weight means more pressure affect joints hips and knees. Set some goals for regular exercise and weight loss, get rid of some pressure and ease aches and pains.
Cold compresses and hot water bottles
Ice packs and hot water bottles are not only helpful when it comes to exercising, but they can come in useful when joint pain strikes, too. Ice will help soothe your pain as it reduces the blood flow, which in turn relieves pain and helps to reduce inflammation. Applying heat pads and compresses helps to loosen up stiff joints.
Consider hormone replacement therapy hrt
By replacing the hormones you lose with hormone replacement therapy hrt as you go through menopause you can protect yourself to some extent against the symptoms of low oestrogen, including joint aches and muscle aches.
Include anti inflammatory foods
A balanced diet can help keep joint pain in check and lots of foods can help towards preventing stiffness, aches and pains. Following an anti inflammateory diet rich in foods which contain omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and sardines. Plant proteins such as quinoa and pulses can also help to fight inflammation.
The mediterranean diet is also viewed an an anti inflammatory diet. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, and leafy greens are great for boosting your vitamin C levels – kale and spinach are full of it. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables with their high water content can help to keep joints hydrated along with lots of water. Menopausal women tend to carry less water in their bodies so hydration is important.
Consider using supplements
Taking magnesium and other supplements can also go a long way toward giving your bones a boost.Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and muscles. Without it the body cannot absorb calcium, essential for good bone health, often dubbed the best supplement for menopause joint pain.
Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with painful joints and deficiencies of the vitamin are higher in winter months which can make pain worse. Eve Biology Menopause Meal Replacements for Weight Control provide 35% of vitamin D requirements in each serving.
Does menopause joint pain go away?
Joint pain affects many women as natural part of ageing but can be managed. During menopause, joint pain can occur as hormone levels steadily decrease. Adjusting your lifestyle, supplementation can help. Hormone replacement therapy can replace your oestrogen and help to ease discomfort to some extent and so can regular exercise.
The bottom line
Oestrogen plays a part in many body functions including helping to keep the skin and joints hydrated. While joint and muscle pain and a little stiffness are often considered a natural part of ageing, the decline of oestrogen can also be responsible for what we refer to as menopause joint pain.
A good diet and regular exercise will keep your weight in check and your muscle strength up. Supplementation with vitamin D and calcium, magnesium and omega 3 can help to relieve joint pain and joint stiffness. Stretching and movement is important to keep the body and joints lubricated and mobile.