CONDITIONS A-Z

Menopause - Joint Pain

Joint Pain During the Menopause

Menopause is a natural aging process that occurs when a woman stops ovulating and stops having her monthly menstrual cycles. This usually happens between 45 and 55 years of age. There are fluctuations in the levels of the sex hormones oestrogens and progesterone. Common symptoms of menopuase are changes in the menstruation pattern, hot flashes, mood changes, sweating and urinary problems. Muscular weakness and joint pains are also seen in some women.

Why is there joint pain during menopause?

More women than men of their age, especially those over 55 years, have osteoarthritis or inflammation of the joints. The fact that men and women are affected differently points towards the role played by sex hormones. It is also seen that women in postmenopausal age often complain of joint pains. Joint pain, during and after menopause, could occur due to falling levels of oestrogen in the body. The actual correlation between oestrogen and joint pain is not clearly understood, but oestrogen is known to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body. So depletion of oestrogen during menopause makes women more sensitive to pain.

How can you control the falling levels of oestrogen?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): Synthetic oestrogen may be used to supplement the low levels in the body. But HRT cannot be used as the first line of treatment for menopausal joint pain. Certain studies have shown that use of postmenopausal oestrogen may lead to a more severe condition of osteoarthritis. This treatment must be used with care as 10% of the women who resort to HRT experience side effects like fluid retention, headaches, swollen breasts, vaginal discharge and weight gain.

What are the other treatment options for joint pain during menopause?

Non-Pharmacological Interventions:

  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Mechanical aids
  • Transcutaneous nerve stimulation. This is a treatment used to lower perception of pain and helps in control of chronic or acute pain.
  • Local massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Pain management counseling
  • Assistive devices
  • Knee sleeves
  • Physical therapy

Pharmacological Treatment:

  • Pain killers
  • Topical pain relievers
  • Intra-articular steroid injections
  • Nutraceuticals are a combination of nutrition and pharmaceutical components like glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, which have medicinal effects on health. See supplements for joint pain here.

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