Joints aches and pains – could it be related to the menopause?
Joint pain affects many people as they get older but it is also extremely common among menopausal women, for hormonal reasons. Aches, stiffness, swelling around the joint and sometimes heat are typical symptoms of menopausal joint pain. These may be worse in the morning, improving as the day continues. Twinges first thing in the morning can often be mistaken for arthritis, when in fact they are due to fluctuating hormones, overnight dehydration and an accumulation of uric acid within our joints.
Joints that experience high impact 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 sufficient rest.
The hormone oestrogen has an important role in maintaining joint and bone health. It is a soft tissue relaxant, so ligaments (the tissue that connects bones to other bones) will be less elastic as oestrogen levels drop during the menopause.
Then as you reach the menopause, fluctuating hormone levels affect not just the elasticity of ligaments but also the production of collagen – the structural protein of connective tissue. Muscles, tendons (which connect muscles to bones) and ligaments may all become more prone to stiffening, with aching and/ or painfulness a more common occurrence.
What can you do at home to help yourself?
When it comes to eating to support your joints, anti-inflammatory foods are key. Aim to up your intake of fresh foods, lots of fruit and vegetables and oily fish are a good option too. These are especially rich in omega-3 which is one of the best natural anti-inflammatories.
Include lots of fresh herbs and spices in your home cooking, many of which are anti-inflammatory too such as turmeric or cinnamon. And finally, aim to limit your intake of some of the main pro- inflammatory foods including refined sugar, processed meats and dairy products.
Don’t forget about drinks
Firstly we need to drink enough – but enough of the right things that is! Dehydration can also cause joint pain because it contributes to the build-up of uric acid, which in turn, can cause inflammation in your joints.
Oestrogen is also important for regulating fluid levels in your body so with falling levels of the hormone during menopause, you may find that your body is unable to retain water so efficiently. This can affect our joints, plus with all of those hot flushes and night sweats you risk becoming even more dehydrated. Therefore, you need to drink even more than usual in order to compensate.
My advice is to start the morning with a big glass of warm water and follow up with balancing herbal teas such as Golden Rod and Knotgrass tea. Aim to drink 1.5l of plain, still water separately from any of your herbal teas and be sure to limit excess caffeine or sweetened drinks, which will only risk promoting further inflammation.
Don’t be afraid to take it easy!
When it comes to lifestyle, although it’s not what many women want to hear, as you approach menopause it’s time to start taking care of number one!
When it comes to exercise, although you may be worried about putting on a little extra weight, believe or not, hammering the gym isn’t the best way to support either your waistline or your joints! This will only create stress and put further strain on your body, so aim to stretch gently instead with options such as yoga.
Which supplements are a good option?
1 - Phytogen forte
Hadley Wood Phytogen Forte helps to gently improve and support your oestrogen levels. This is especially useful when those aches and pains are accompanied by other low oestrogen symptoms which can include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings or dry skin.
Interestingly, fluctuating hormones are often at the root of the cause when it comes to menopausal joint pain so it makes sense that this is a good place to start in terms of a product pick!
2 - Atrosan
Although you’ll hopefully have embarked on a more anti-inflammatory diet already, there are supplements to help you out too. Take Atrosan Devil’s Claw once or twice daily internally to help ease inflammatory pain.
3 - Atrogel
Finally for a bit of topical relief, why not try some A.Vogel Atrogel Arnica Gel? Apply to your most affected areas 2-4 times daily for some soothing relief.