Achy, swollen joints are another common symptom of menopause. As a woman approaches menopause, her body goes through drastic hormonal fluctuations that can affect her in many ways. The medical community is unclear as to why menopause seems to have this effect on joints. One theory is that estrogen affects joints by keeping inflammation down. As estrogen levels decline, the joints can swell and become painful.
Joint pain during menopause is associated with both osteoporosis and arthritis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose density and can become brittle. Arthritis is the medical term for “inflammation,” and can refer to many different types of joint conditions. Some of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions are complicated and varied, so it’s important to make an appointment with us to discuss your concerns.
What Does Joint Pain Feel Like?
Menopausal joint pain usually hits the worst in the morning and eases as the joints loosen up with the day’s activities. Most women complain of pain in the neck, jaw, shoulders, and elbows, but wrists and fingers can also be affected.
The pain can be accompanied by stiffness, swelling, or even a shooting pain traveling down the back, arms, and legs. Some women report more of a burning sensation, especially after a work-out.
Easing Joint Pain During Menopause
Making an appointment with your primary care physician or gynecologist is a good first step towards alleviating your joint pain; however, there are many simple, non-invasive ways to treat joint pain by making some changes to your daily routine.
Exercise is a great way to strengthen your joints and stay flexible. Swimming, tai chi, and yoga are great options for seniors. Avoid activities that put a lot of strain on your joints, like jogging. Staying active can also help keep your weight down, which can relieve some of the pressure on your joints.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is known to excite inflammation in the joints. Practicing stress relief techniques and getting regular exercise can manage cortisol levels.
Watch your diet
Diets high in carbohydrates and sugars and low in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to trigger chronic inflammation. Replace white bread, white rice, and flour with whole grain foods like wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa. Choose seafood like fresh tuna, salmon, and mackerel, and seek out leafy greens like kale and spinach. Some foods, like blackberries, blueberries, and cherries, provide the body with natural anti-inflammatories. You can also supercharge your diet with omega-3 and D supplements.
Hyaluronic acid might help lubricate the joints, and ibuprofen can help relieve everyday aches and pains.
What if my Joint Pain is Severe?
If fever or weight loss accompanies your joint pain, or if the pain becomes worse and lasts more than a few days, please contact your doctor.