Aches and pains are commonly experienced in the back, shoulders and neck and can also lead to tension headaches. Although the most common areas to ache are in the upper body, all over your body can hurt more at this time.
While it’s usually not the most distressing symptom, the discomfort and pain can impact your day, as well as disrupt sleep, so understanding what causes it and how to ease it is important.
WHY DOES THE MENOPAUSE CAUSE MUSCLE PAIN?
The hormonal imbalance as you approach menopause is the most common reason for muscle aches and pains. During perimenopause your hormones begin to fluctuate radically before they fall and remain low as you go through menopause and afterwards. The imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone are the main cause here.
Firstly, oestrogen regulates the production of cortisol in the body. This is known as the ‘stress hormone’ and when oestrogen is low, your cortisol levels rise, which can cause you to become more stressed and anxious, two symptoms which are very common in the menopause. High levels of cortisol can then cause your muscles to tense up and become painful. Increased levels of cortisol in the body are also known to make you more sensitive to pain, causing you to feel muscle and body aches and pains more easily.
Falling oestrogen can also affect the uptake and utilisation of magnesium, and magnesium is vital for proper muscle function and muscle relaxation. Therefore, low magnesium can cause muscles aches and pains, muscle fatigue and muscle cramps.
Next, is progesterone. This hormone helps to keep your body nice and relaxed. As progesterone levels fluctuate and drop prior to and during menopause, you may experience more muscle tension and pain.
Hormonal and physical changes during the menopause can also make you more likely to gain weight and develop fat around the middle. This added weight can put more strain on both your muscles and joints, resulting in pain and discomfort.
Low iron levels in the body can also cause muscle pain. The pain results from a lack of oxygen in the muscles. You can ask your doctor to check your iron levels to rule this out.
While muscle pain can be attributed to the menopause, it is important to know that arthritis often appears around the same age as the menopause, so it is wise to get muscle pains, as well as any joint pains checked by your doctor.
The decrease in oestrogen levels that occurs during menopause can lead to inflammation and reduced lubrication in the joints, which can result in joint pain and stiffness.
Additionally, women may experience a decrease in bone density, which can further contribute to joint pain. However, there are supplements and lifestyle changes that can help alleviate joint pain.
JOINT PAIN SYMPTOMS
The intensity of joint pain differs between women and can be incredibly debilitating for some.
Symptoms of joint pain include:
- Pain when moving or bending the joint
- Decreased mobility
- Swelling and inflammation
- Clicking noises when bending a joint
- Lingering aches and pains
- The site of the joint appears red and warm to the touch
SUPPLEMENTS FOR MENOPAUSE JOINT PAIN
If you seek a natural remedy to alleviate menopausal joint pain, consider taking supplements as an effective solution.
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb that has had medicinal applications for thousands of years.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric which provides anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric has shown to be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It reduces joint swelling, pain, and stiffness.
Ginger is another anti-inflammatory herb with promising applications in joint pain relief.
Ginger extract can reduce proinflammatory substances in the body. This, in turn reduces joint inflammation.
Ginger can also help to ease the discomfort produced by joint pain.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects and can effectively reduce pain in the joints.
This oil keeps the joints healthy by protecting and supplementing joint tissue.
This supplement can help keep the joints and tissues lubricated, which minimises pain and swelling.
Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to contribute to joint pain.
Vitamin D strengthens and protects bone health. This nutrient is essential in preventing osteomalacia, softening bones, and osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass.
Vitamin D can be obtained from salmon and eggs. Additionally, sunlight exposure prompts your body to produce Vitamin D naturally.
Supplementation for joint health is beneficial for individuals with a known deficiency.
Glucosamine: This supplement is a compound naturally produced by the body, yet supplementation can offer relief from joint pain.
Glucosamine is essential in maintaining cartilage health, which cushions our joints, preventing pain.
Supplementation has proven valuable in treating arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Glucosamine is a valuable option for those who prefer not to or are unable to take NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
WHAT ELSE CAN HELP RELIEF MENOPAUSE JOINT PAIN?
- Exercise regularly: Engaging in low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, barre, pilates and yoga can help improve joint flexibility and reduce pain.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight puts extra pressure on the joints, which can exacerbate joint pain.
Use heat and cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected joints can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Practice good posture: Maintaining good posture (ballet stance) can help reduce stress on the joints and alleviate pain.
Get enough sleep: Getting enough restful sleep can help reduce inflammation and improve overall joint health.
- Reduce stress: Stress can exacerbate inflammation and increase joint pain. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress levels.
- Consider hormone replacement therapy: Hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate menopause symptoms, including joint pain, by replacing the hormones that are lost during menopause. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this treatment option.
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet: Certain foods can contribute to inflammation in the body, while others can help reduce it. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet can help reduce joint pain. Sugars will increase inflammation.