Menopause-associated arthralgia is a symptom that at least half of women report. Arthralgia, or pain in the joint, is more common in women, increases with age, and in some, appears to be associated with the onset of menopause. The exact cause of the joint pain can be challenging to pin down because menopause typically occurs during the same time that other arthritic-type conditions tend to happen.
Menopause-related joint pain might be present due to the declining levels of estrogen.
The pain felt in the joints around this time occurs when other arthritic-type conditions develop in women.
While it seems difficult, exercise can help improve joint stiffness and decrease pain.
Other measures to improve pain include weight management, specialized shoe inserts, and possibly the addition of supplements.
Why do your joints hurt during menopause?
Does it feel like it's always hormones that we end up giving credit for the blame? Well, that's because hormones play a significant role in the functioning of our bodies. When you are going through menopause, you start to see a significant shift in all those hormones. One of the main hormones in menopause that begin to drop is estrogen.
The hormone estrogen is known to protect joints and also helps to reduce inflammation. The connection between joint pain and menopause is still under debate, so more research is underway to determine the link between the two.
Some clinicians will also note that the bone pain experienced during menopause might be related to aging. It's important, though, to know that estrogen plays a role in osteoporosis development. Estrogen can affect the cells that increase and break down bone, so a lower amount of this hormone circulating can affect the rate at which osteoporosis develops.
The fluctuation of hormones during menopause also causes other symptoms like hot flashes and exhaustion, which can alter our tolerance and perception of pain. Meaning it can make that pain worse because we feel miserable.
As you go through menopause, weight gain is another side effect of the change. With more weight on your body, your joints will be affected, especially those that hold your weight. These are the joints of your ankles, knees, and hips.
What does hormonal joint pain feel like?
When you want to understand what joint pain during menopause feels like, think about how osteoarthritis feels. These symptoms of hormonal joint pain seem to affect the neck, jaw, shoulders, elbows, and hands. Women have described the pain as feeling as:
- Joint swelling
- Joint stiffness early in the morning
- Some may experience shooting pains
- Joint stiffness after prolonged periods of rest
- Decrease in range of motion that resolves with activity
While women experience pain differently, conversing with your doctor will help prevent complications and improve your quality of life.
What supplements help menopause joint pain?
Treatment for joint pain during menopause usually involves taking medications that can have nasty side effects on other organs or, worse, lead to a dependence on the medication.
The good news is that there are some supplements for menopausal joint pain that might be worth trying:
- Fish oil. The omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil can help reduce inflammation and have many heart benefits.
- Primrose oil. Primrose oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, helping to reduce inflammation and could help to reduce morning stiffness.
- Starflower oil. Also known as borage oil, it is high in the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid. Although the effects of borage oil need more research, it is high in omega-6, producing anti-inflammatory effects, and has benefits for atopic dermatitis.
- Ginseng extract. A well-known medicinal plant, ginseng has many healing capabilities. A relatively recent study has shown that ginseng extracts reduced knee joint pain and stiffness symptoms.
- Curcumin. This naturally occurring compound in the turmeric plant is known to provide benefits in inflammatory conditions and pain. It has also shown benefits in exercise-induced inflammation and aiding in easing sore muscles.
- Arnica extract. In oral and topical forms, arnica has been shown to reduce inflammation and act similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen.
- Avocado and soybean unsaponifiable (ASU). Natural vegetable extracts from avocado and soybean oils inhibit the breakdown of cartilage and promote cartilage repair. ASU reduces pain and stiffness and improves joints' functioning, reducing the need for prescription analgesics.
- Yeahhh Baby! ointment. A new topical ointment, Yeahhh Baby! was explicitly developed for joint pain. The ingredients are all-natural, with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties found in each one. A recent study on this ointment showed a significant alleviation in the individual's joint pain.
Will joint pain in menopause go away?
The symptoms of menopause-related joint pain may resolve once the hormone imbalance returns to a better level. However, it's essential to ensure that there aren't any other identifiable sources contributing to the joint pain.
Normal aging and osteoporosis can also cause joint pain around the same time as menopause. Oddly enough, for some women, rheumatoid arthritis is also common around this time in age for women. Blood tests and imaging will help to differentiate between those conditions that require further intervention.
What helps with menopause joints?
There are other measures that you can take to reduce the amount of joint pain during menopause that doesn't involve taking supplements or expensive prescription medications.
Try measures such as:
- Exercise. Increasing exercise to help keep the muscles around your joints strong and reduce stiffness.
- Weight. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the amount of pressure placed on joints.
- Acupuncture. This can be beneficial for some women in menopause with painful joints.
- Aqua therapy. Water aerobic type exercise is excellent to provide movement while creating a low buoyancy, low impact regimen.
- Footwear. Proper footwear with specialized insoles can help to reduce pain.
- Diet. Try an anti-inflammatory diet that includes tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fatty fish.
Menopause can bring about many unwanted symptoms, and the joint pain experienced by some women can be troubling. There are ways that you can try to make the pain more tolerable and thereby increase your quality of life.
- Journal of Neuroinflammation. The peri-menopause in a woman’s life: a systemic inflammatory phase that enables later neurodegenerative disease.
- Chronic Diseases and Translational Medicine. Primary osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
- National Menopause Association. Menopause and joint pain: What is the connection?
- Nutrients. Effect of Ginseng Extracts on the Improvement of Osteopathic and Arthritis Symptoms in Women with Osteopenia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.
- American Heart Association. Could fish oil fight inflammation?
- Foods. Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health.
- Medicines. Clinical Trials, Potential Mechanisms, and Adverse Effects of Arnica as an Adjunct Medication for Pain Management.
- Cartilage. Management of Osteoarthritis with Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables.
- Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. A Topical Botanical Ointment for Self-Reported Hip and/or Knee Pain: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.