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5 months ago
Joint pain and menopause: What is the link?

Women complaining about joint pains — pain in the knees, elbow, hip joints — as they age, is a common phenomenon. Some attribute it to the natural ageing process, some blame it on poor bone health and we are not denying either of these two causes. But one reason for these joint pains to occur after a certain age is – menopause. The hormonal changes happening during peri-menopause and menopause affect a woman’s bone health adversely. This is why osteoporosis post menopause is also common in most women. However, before it reaches that point joint pains can be a taxing problem for many women to deal. Here are few must know facts about osteoporosis and bone loss.

Joint pains: a common symptom of menopause

According to Dr Miten Sheth, Orthopedic Knee Surgeon, The Knee Clinic, Mumbai, ‘As life expectancy increases, contemporary women live a third of their lives in menopause. Around 80 percent of women suffer from various symptoms (including pain) in the peri-menopausal period, which is usually defined as the age between 45 to 55 years. Aches, stiffness and swelling around the joint are typical symptoms of menopausal joint pain. These may be worse in the morning, improving as the day continues. Joints which experience high impacts such as the hips and knees tend to be most affected by this so-called menopausal arthritis. Hands and fingers can also be affected. High impact exercise such as jogging can exacerbate the problem, although this is often eased with rest.’

Another reason for joint pains during the peri-menopause and menopause is being overweight. A BMI of more than 30 indicates that the woman is on the heavier side, which also implies that the excess weight can put a pressure on her joints and aggravate joint pains. Here are some causes of joint pain other than arthritis that you should know.

Blame it on the hormones

Like most of the other symptoms of menopause, joint pains are typically caused by hormonal imbalance. As menopause approaches, a woman’s hormone levels begin to fluctuate, preparing the body for a permanent decrease in production of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. Although it is still unclear exactly how estrogen in particular- affect the joints, it has been observed that menopausal women are more prone to joint pain. During menopause, the rate of bone loss increases as the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries drops. Bone loss is most rapid in the first few years after menopause but continues through the postmenopausal years. Excess weight, diet, lack of exercise, stress, heredity, injuries and wear and tear also play a role in intensifying joint pains. Here are some of the symptoms that indicate the onset of menopause.

What one should do

If joint pains become severe that it affects one’s day-to-day activities it is better to consult a doctor for help. Simple lifestyle changes help in alleviating joint pains to a great extent. Losing weight, following a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables helps to improve the intake of natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to ease aches and pains. Oily fish are also recommended, as they contain omega-3 essential fatty acids which are thought to ease inflammation, particularly in the joints. Calcium & Vitamin D are important for bone growth and maintenance and may help to prevent the loss of bone density during menopause. Calcium is vital for bone strength, while vitamin D helps with absorption of calcium in the body. Magnesium has a calming effect on the body and is vital for muscle function. It may, therefore, be an effective remedy for muscular aches and pains. Light exercises like walking and aerobics also help to keep the joints supple and flexible and help to reduce inflammation.

Image source: Shutterstock

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