Feeling Stiff? It Might Be Menopause Joint Pain
6 minutes read
If you have experienced a chronic stabbing in your lower back, creaking hips or swollen joints when you hit your 40s or 50s, you might have menopausal joint pain. While joint pain is common and a sign of ageing, research says menopausal women are much more affected. When not treated, it can be debilitating, affecting your mobility, flexibility and quality of life.
The good news is that there are ways you can do to relieve and reduce menopause joint pain and prevent your joint health from deteriorating or worsening.
Gail Warren, Aesthetician, Nutritional Therapist with a particular interest in menopause health and a member of the British Association of Nutritional Therapists, tells Beauty Daily: “Lifestyle and nutritional changes can help manage menopause joint pains. They can reduce and relieve you from inflammation and further joint deterioration, and bone fracture. In addition, it prevents future muscle, bone and joint diseases.”
Can Menopause Cause Joint Pain?
Yes, menopause can cause joint pain. It is listed as one of the most common symptoms shared by menopausal women.
Warren says this happens when: “The hormone oestrogen is responsible for decreasing inflammation and keeping the joints lubricated, making them freely flexible. However, during perimenopause and menopause, oestrogen levels significantly drop and can cause joint pain flare-ups and inflammation in some women.”
Natasha Alonzi, Registered Nutritional Therapist and Wellbeing Coach, adds: “This can lead to a lack of exercise and weight gain causing more pain and inflammation in the joints. In addition, conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis also may develop due to a lack of oestrogen.”
What Does Menopause Joint Pain Feel Like?
Menopause joint pain may increase stiffness, swelling and discomfort around the joints of knees, shoulders, neck, elbows, or hands. Your old forgotten joint injuries may even begin to ache again.
Does Joint Pain from the Menopause Go Away?
Some treatments can ease menopausal joint pain. In addition, some women find that symptoms begin to diminish as hormone levels even out and stabilise during postmenopause. But experts say it will depend on your overall lifestyle and general health.
7 Expert-Backed Approved Menopause Joint Pain Treatments
1. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Dr Rachel Jones, MBBS MRCPsych, Consultant Psychiatrist and Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Expert, recommends looking into Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Be sure to consult with your GP before undergoing any treatment. After a detailed history and blood tests are performed, a clinic can prescribe a course.
“HRT is very effective at treating menopausal joint pain. It involves taking hormones, including oestrogen, identical in structure to hormones produced in the human body to replenish levels that have dropped.”
2. Supplement with vitamin D
Several studies show that low vitamin D levels can cause increased joint and muscle pain, so supplement your diet with vitamin D.
“Lack of it may lead to bone weakness and aching bones and joints. In addition, it is a prohormone, so if it is low, it will impact other hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone. Therefore, supplementing with vitamin D may help with menopause joint pain.”
According to Alonzi, another reason women experience menopause joint pain is due to a reduction in muscular strength. “We start to lose muscle after the age of 30. Muscles support our structure, bones, and joints,” she says.
She recommends engaging in strength training exercises before, during and after menopause to combat this. She advises doing light cardio, yoga, pilates, stretching, and weight training.
“It’s never too late to start. I started at 45 and have made remarkable progress with pain,” she shares.
Activities like walking, swimming, gardening, or doing housework can also help.
Warren advises it’s vital to “maintain a healthy weight” as excess weight puts pressure on the joints. “Exercising and being active is a key component for healthy joints and will all help strengthen the muscles around the joints for that extra needed support as we are ageing,” she adds.
Read next: What’s The Deal With Menopause Weight Gain?
4. Cut the junk
Ultra-processed foods with high amounts of trans fats, saturated fat, added sugar and oils high in omega 6, for example, sunflower oils, are known to cause menopause joint pain flare-ups. So, try to minimise consumption as these can make menopause joint pain worse if consumed regularly.
5. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Alonzi recommends that eating an anti-inflammatory diet goes a long way toward supporting menopausal joint pain.
“Attend to your nutritional needs with a mixture of plant-based and animal meat meals, good quality fats including omega 3-rich oily fish once a week and complex carbohydrates with plenty of colourful vegetables and fruit,” she says.
She also recommends eating foods with phytoestrogens. “Plant foods such as lentils, chickpeas, peas, tofu, beans, and flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens. Eat more of these foods when oestrogen levels are dropping to support menopausal symptoms. For example, one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds at breakfast, in a smoothie, or in a salad is a great way to increase phytoestrogens.”
Experts say that, to a limited extent, phytoestrogens could serve as a type of natural hormone replacement therapy and reduce menopause joint pain.
6. Add more ginger and turmeric to your diet
Ginger and turmeric share powerful anti-inflammatory properties and pain relief qualities. Both are said to be effective in decreasing menopausal joint pain and inflammation.
When incorporating turmeric into your diet, consume it with fat [think nuts and milk] and black pepper to aid absorption. “The problem with turmeric is it is hard to absorb; it is a huge molecule that can’t pass the lining of the stomach due to its size and molecular make-up,” says Alonzi.
Ginger, on the other hand, has reduced knee pain in 63% of patients taking the ginger extract. “So, get the ginger in. Grate over fish and chicken in curries and make fresh ginger tea,” Alonzi recommends.
Beauty Daily recommends swapping your early morning coffee with this Turmeric Latte. It combines warm milk, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and whizz together. Regular intake builds stronger bones and reduces arthritic and osteoporotic pain in the knees, back, and hips.
7. Don’t forget your nutritional Cs – Collagen and Vitamin C
Collagen declines when oestrogen drops—upping your collagen intake to support your tendons and ligaments. Collagen helps build and repair worn-out tendons and ligaments.
Warren advises: “Collagen is found in bone broth and all animal produce. You can also add collagen peptide powder to your smoothies and soups but take advice from your nutritional therapist.”
The compound epicatechin is also known to stimulate collagen. It is found in berries, dark chocolate, green tea, apples, and pomegranates.
Vitamin C also plays a huge role in collagen production. Foods high in vitamin C are kale, peppers, berries, kiwi, guavas, broccoli and oranges.
Ensuring good quality sleep and finding me time are ways to improve the overall quality of mind and body. Read next: Holistic Ways to Manage the Menopause
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