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Menopause

joint pain menopause

Dealing with Joint Pain Menopause: Treatment Options for Relief

Written and Reviewed by Dr. Uzma Qureshi
Published on: 14/05/2024

Joint pain is one of the major 34 symptoms of menopause transitions. You may be in the middle of your busy office routine and feel a wave of pain in your knee or wrist. Joint pain menopause not only disturbs your daily activities but also impacts the quality of your life. You may not enjoy the social gatherings or functions. If all of these situations sound familiar to you, then do not worry, as you are not alone. 50% of women experience menopause joint pain.

You have landed in the right place if you are suffering with these symptoms. In this blog, you will learn what joint pain during menopause feels like. Moreover, explore easy strategies to relieve these menopause aches and pains and enjoy a better transition. 

Understanding the Menopause Joint Pain

Women are more likely to experience joint and muscular pains as compared to men. And when it comes to the menopause transition, 50% of women complain about it.

During menopause, when your oestrogen levels fluctuate, your muscle mass decreases and your bones become weaker. Age is another process that causes these weakened bones and lean muscles to contribute to weakness and pain. 

Furthermore, oestrogen controls inflammation in your body. When there is less oestrogen running in your blood, it is easier for joints to get swollen and sore. The swollen joints and their linings cause discomfort throughout the day or at any time, disturbing your daily activities. BMI, work status, depression and mood changes are also thought to be linked with menopause joint pain. 

What are the influencing factors for joint pain menopause?

There may not be a direct physical link between joint pain and menopause, but they go side by side. The possible causes of joint pain in menopause can stem from several factors, such as:

Fluctuating hormones

Oestrogen not only regulates reproductive health, but it also helps to keep joints healthy. It keeps your joints healthy by maintaining cushioning and reducing the swelling. A decrease in oestrogen causes swelling in your joints, even if you can not see it with the naked eye, but there may be swelling inside that causes joint pain during menopause. 

Ageing

Advancing age influences your aching joints menopause. There are numerous things going on inside of you, and you cannot determine whether a particular change is due to menopause or advancing age. When you age, the protective lining around your bones (cartilage) starts deteriorating. This wear and tear causes swelling and stiffness in your joints; it is also known as osteoarthritis. 

Weaker bones

A condition in which bones become less dense and weak, known as osteoporosis, is one of the 34 symptoms of menopause. When your bones are weak and not healthy enough to perform physical activities, it stresses your joints. This stress can cause joint pain during menopause. 

Weight gain

Hormonal fluctuations cause fat to store in your abdominal region. Your metabolism is slow during menopause, making it difficult to burn calories. This makes you gain weight. Increased weight puts pressure on your joints and bones, and when the bones are weak, you feel discomfort and pain in your joints. 

Compromised nutrition

Dealing with a lot of menopause symptoms makes you irritated and anxious. These feelings can make you crave unhealthy food, compromising your nutrition. If you do not take adequate doses of calcium and vitamin D when you reach menopause, it is going to negatively affect your bone health. Unhealthy bones ultimately lead to menopause aches and pains.  

How do I recognise menopause aches and pains in joints?

While dealing with a variety of physical and mental changes, you may become confused about whether a particular pain is joint pain or another symptom of menopause. To remove this confusion, here are a few points to tell you how the joint pain may feel:

  1. Pain to touch.
  2. Swelling around the joint.
  3. Reduced range of motion.
  4. Pain when you move the joint
  5. Popping or cracking sound with movement. 
  6. Soreness in the neck, wrists, shoulders, and knees. 
  7. Severe pain after any strenuous activity.
  8. There is stiffness and discomfort when you wake up, but it gets better after performing your daily activities. 

How to treat menopause joint pain?

Sore joints menopause can be difficult to manage at times. You may experience anxiety or depression as a result of your lower quality of life during this time period. However, keep in mind that it is manageable.

Here are a few strategies to treat joint pain during menopause effectively:

Exercise daily

You may have heard ‘use it or lose it.’ This is the scenario here. The menopause joint problems will ask you to restrict movement or move less. Do not listen to such thoughts. Exercise your muscles and bones daily. Performing activities like swimming, yoga, or walking is like a full-body workout. It will improve your joint health, making them less sore and painful. 

Eat anti-swelling food

Your diet plays a key role in maintaining muscle and joint health. Certain foods promote swelling in your body, and you should stay away from them while experiencing menopause aches and pains. Prefer eating anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, salmon, and olive oil. They will not only reduce joint pain in menopause but also improve overall health. 

Maintain your weight

Increased weight is a contributing factor to menopause aches and pains. It is essential to maintain overall body mass index (BMI) and keep your weight within a healthy range to not put extra pressure on your joints. And if you are overweight or at risk of obesity, you can also follow the menopause diet 5-day plan to lose weight. Shed the extra pounds and save yourself from menopause joint problems. 

Take supplements

The mineral reserves in your body are disturbed when oestrogen level decreases. It is important to add supplements to your daily routine for better health outcomes and to reduce menopause aches and pains. Add omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and vitamin D to your diet. These supplements will help maintain your bone density and cartilage health, along with fighting any joint  swelling. However, before using these supplements, you should always talk to your doctor. 

Use the PRICE protocol

Your joint(s) may become swollen due to overwork or an injury. If you ever find yourself in this situation, remember that you can always use the PRICE protocol. It not only reduces swelling but also helps with joint pain menopause. Here is what is done in this protocol: 

Protect: Save the joint from any further injury or overactivity. You may use braces. 

Rest: Allow your injured and painful joints some time to heal. Do not perform heavy activities.

Ice: Apply icing for 10–15 minutes over the swollen joint. Use ice packs or cooling sprays or gels. 

Compression: To reduce swelling and pain, you can wear a compression bandage on the joint. It will let the extra fluid return to its original place. 

Elevate: Try raising your joint from your body level. This elevation will let the extra fluid travel back to its place. 

Medications

Medicines will be the first thought popping into your mind when you ask yourself, “How to treat menopause joint pain?” Medications should be taken after consulting a healthcare professional related to your aching joints menopause. Following are some over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for menopause aches and pains. 

  • Ibuprofen: Advil
  • Naproxen: Aleve
  • Acetaminophen: Tylenol

You can also use creams and lotions that contain NSAIDs to relieve joint pain menopause. Examples are diclofenac and lidocaine gels or capsaicin cream. 

Get physical therapy sessions 

Physical therapy sessions are effective in reducing and managing the symptoms of menopause joint problems. In this session, you perform stretching and targeted exercises on a painful joint. Your PT may also manipulate your joint. Regular therapy sessions help you enhance mobility, alleviate discomfort, and improve your overall quality of life.

Opt for HRT

If the natural remedies and OTC drugs are not relieving your joint pain menopause, then you may opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT involves providing you with oestrogen to maintain its level. Oestrogen, a key hormone in maintaining joint health, regulates swelling mechanism and supports cartilage function. Therefore, restoring oestrogen levels through HRT may help reduce joint discomfort and improve mobility for some women.

You may be asking yourself, ‘Is hormone replacement therapy safe during menopause?’ No doubt, this therapy has its benefits, but long-term and hi dosage use can be harmful. A consultation with your doctor will help you weigh its pros and cons better. 

Bottomline

Dealing with menopause aches and pains can be tiring. The first step in its management is to understand what links joint pain and menopause. Hormonal fluctuations, ageing, weak bones, weight gain, and poor nutrition are some of the factors that influence menopause aches and pains. 

Swelling, decreased range of motion, and stiffness when you wake up in the morning are worth noticing as signs of joint pain menopause. The answer to your query, ‘How to treat menopause joint pain?’ is that you should maintain your daily physical activities, weight and diet. Try taking physical therapy sessions and OTC medicines when natural remedies are not helpful. Hormone replacement therapy is also one of the treatment options for aching joints during menopause, but your doctor will recommend the best for you. 

Stay patient and determined about any of the treatment options you are considering. You can always seek help from loved ones or your doctor whenever needed. 

FAQs – Menopause Joint pain

Will joint pain menopause go away?

Yes, menopause aches and pains can go away by taking a few OTC medications, maintaining your physical activities and diet, and reducing your weight. Though it may take some time as all the treatment options vary from person to person, the key is to stay consistent and seek help from your doctor. 

What supplements are good for menopause aches and pains?

You can add supplements like calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and collagen. These supplements will not only reduce menopause joint pain but will also help improve your overall health. 

How long does menopause joint pain last?

The duration of menopause aches and pains varies from person to person. Most women experience joint pain in menopause for a few months; on the other hand, some report persistent joint pain for years. However, this symptom gets better when your hormone levels stabilise.

When should I see a doctor for joint pain menopause?

You should see a doctor if you are experiencing persistent joint pain that increases when you move the joint. Moreover, if you are feeling fever and fatigue along with severe joint pain during menopause, you should consult your doctor. 

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