Joint pain is a common symptom that many women experience during menopause and is most likely to be at its worst first thing in a morning due to disuse through the night. This type of discomfort can often be felt by feeling stiff, swelling, shooting pains or even a burning sensation. Stiff and inflamed joints can often be warm to the touch.
Hormonal changes, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels, can contribute to joint discomfort and inflammation. As the hormone estrogen produces collagen this helps to maintain healthy joint tissues and protect against inflammation. When this hormone starts to reduce, this decline can lead to joint pain. Alongside this low estrogen comes a risk of developing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects your bone mass and density which could lead to weakened and fragile bones. This can occur when the body loses bone tissue faster than it is being replaced which results in bones becoming porous and susceptible to fractures.
Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that primarily affects the joints. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of our bones gradually wears away over time. As the cartilage deteriorates the bones then begin rubbing together leading to pain, stiffness and loss of movement within the joint.
Another factor to consider as to why you may be suffering from joint issues could be due to dehydration. When the body is dehydrated this can cause uric acid to build up which can trigger inflammation in the joints. As estrogen is a key part in the regulation of fluid it plays a huge role in the hydration levels in your body. Put simply, as estrogen drops, so does your body’s ability to hold onto fluids.
There are a few lifestyle changes we can make to help ease pain on the joints:
Include more protein – Adding more protein into your diet can help you to maintain your body’s muscle mass which plays a big part in your bone strength and support.
Regular exercise – Taking regular exercise can play a key part in improving your bone health. Consistent exercise can help in preventing your joints becoming stiff and sore, however if you do have issues with this you could always try out low impact exercises such as swimming, walking or yoga.
Stop smoking – If you are a smoker and going through the menopause, now is the time that you need to stop. Smoking can increase your risk of cardiovascular issues, cancer, diabetes and even bone mass loss. Smoking can slow down your bone’s ability to heal properly meaning that you could be prone to more thinning of bones, joint stiffness and pain.
Drink more water – As we have already mentioned, drinking more water plays a vital role in staying hydrated. As our bodies are producing less estrogen it is harder to retain fluid and being dehydrated can lead to aches in the joints.
Include supplements – Calcium is particularly important as it keeps your bones strong and healthy. The mineral magnesium is also just as important. Magnesium is needed for calcium to be absorbed into your bloodstream effectively. Therefore, if you are low in magnesium, calcium can find it difficult to get to the bones. Without sufficient magnesium, calcium may be dumped as painful crystals in and around the joints.
As always if you are suffering over a long period of time and it is impacting the quality of your life it is important that you seek advice and guidance from a medical professional.