Menopause and Joint Pain
And maybe that’s due to joint pain........
I recently commented in a Sculpt Method class that menopause can cause joint pain, especially in our shoulders, hips, knees and lower back. I was inundated by messages from women who, despite knowing that joint pain was an inevitable part of the ageing process, didn’t realise the main culprit was fluctuating hormone levels.
Oestrogen protects joints and reduces inflammation, but when oestrogen levels drop during menopause, inflammation can increase, the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can go up and the result can be painful, stiff joints.
Women often describe the feeling as joint stiffness, swelling, shooting pains and even a burning sensation after working out.
How can we help ease the discomfort?
- Exercise regularly. Low impact exercise such as swimming, cycling, yoga, pilates and Sculpt put little or no pressure on the joints and can improve joint mobility. This can help prevent joints from becoming sore and stiff.
- Eat a clean diet which includes anti inflammatory foods. Eating foods that are low in sugar, salt, are non processed and derive primarily from plants help the body deal with many unpleasant side effects of menopause; including the inflammatory effects of oestrogen reduction.
- Drink water. Women who sweat excessively as a symptom of menopause and who don’t drink sufficient water, become dehydrated. This is leads to joint pain as the joints aren’t as lubricated as they should be. Dehydration also means the kidneys may be unable to get rid of uric acid, which can cause a buildup of tiny, sharp crystals in and around the joints.
- Stress. When we are stressed and/or scared we release the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, cortisol. If there is a continual release, cortisol can act as an inflammatory agent and result in joint pain.
- Prevent weight gain. If we are carrying excess weight, we put added stress on the joints. For every extra pound we carry, we place the equivalent of 4 pounds of extra pressure on our knees.