Can menopause cause joint pain?
Aches and joint stiffness are inevitable as we age. The main reason is because the amount of lubricating fluid inside your joints decreases and the cartilage becomes thinner. Ligaments also tend to shorten and lose some flexibility, which makes the joints feel stiff. However, it is not only aging that can cause the pain and stiffness in your joints. Many women are often surprised to discover that joint pain is one of the most common symptoms of menopause.
What does menopause joint pain feel like?
Any of your joints can be affected, from little joints such as fingers and toes, right up to the joints involved in high impact movements such as hips, knees and ankles.
The typical symptoms of menopausal joint pain are feeling achy, stiff and creaky and sometimes experiencing a burning feeling around the joints. These feelings are probably worse in the morning and improving or disappearing as the day continues. For some women the pain can be localised to individual joints or a few joints, but many women also describe a feeling of aching all over the body. And, this may sound unusual and surprising to you, but if a specific area is feeling tender or stiff, it is worthwhile thinking back to previous injuries, as many women also experience instances where old injuries have started to ache again. That could be a broken wrist in childhood or a returning tenderness or stiffness from a car accident trauma more recently.
What can you do about it?
There are a lot of simple lifestyle changes and natural things you can do to help ease the discomfort of menopausal joint pain and to support your joint health. Here are our top tips:
Dehydration can have an enormous impact on your joints, So, one of the first things you should do if you experience joint pain is to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. And not just a glass of water! Think of around 1,5-2 litres of plain water every day to keep your tissues moist and supple. In menopause, your body doesn’t retain water as well as it used to, so it is important to replace the lost moisture. If you need variety, you can add a few pieces of fruit for more flavour.
If you experience sore or creaky joints first thing in the morning, it may mean that you are really dehydrated during the night. So make sure that you drink a small glass of plain water about an hour before bedtime. This may also help you if you are experiencing night sweats, as these will dehydrate you further.
Did you know that what you eat can impact how your joints feel? Foods that are heavily processed, red meat, gluten and sugar can trigger joint pain or even make it worse. Others can have a real positive influence on your joint health. The key part of improving your overall joint health is choosing food that reduces inflammation.
- Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet. Especially the ones that are antioxidant-rich foods which can help reduce inflammation. You can find antioxidants in red fruits like cherries, raspberries and blueberries and in green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and kale. Also fresh food such as pineapple, apples, avocados and mushrooms can help reduce inflammation.
- Other foods which can help include virgin olive oil, coconut oil, cacao and spices such as ginger.
- Add food that is rich in omega-3, such as oily fish as herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna. Walnuts, almonds and chia seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acid.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to endure the joint pain and stiffness. Add more proteins to your diet to maintain muscle mass, which is vital for bone support as well as supplements to make sure your needs are covered.
Get regular exercise
It might be the last thing you want to do when your joints feel achy and sore, but staying active is very important as it helps to increase the strength and flexibility of your joints, as well as in the muscles that surround the joints. But don’t worry, there is no need to spend hours in the gym!
Good options you can think of are low-impact activities like cycling, swimming, dancing, walking or yoga. Try to focus on strengthening the muscles around the hip and knee joints as these are the joints that need to support your entire body weight.
Also, be aware, high impact exercises such as jogging on hard roads can increase joint pain. It’s best to limit exercises which involve lots of pounding on your joints such as running and jumping
Weight-bearing exercises can also help. They build muscle, which takes the pressure off your joints.
When it comes to joint pain, stress is especially problematic. Stress raises cortisol levels, and cortisol can cause additional inflammation in joints. So do whatever you can to keep stress down. You may consider a walk in nature or some moderate exercise. Or treat yourself to a massage from time to time. This helps you destress and also eases the symptoms of your menopausal joint pain.
Whether you choose to apply cold or heat may be a personal preference. Generally, ice helps when there are obvious inflammation signs like redness or swelling. Cold may also ease achiness after exercise and it simply numbs your pain anytime.
Heat loosens the muscles, increases blood circulation and enhances flexibility. Therefore a heating pad or a warm shower may be helpful when used before exercise.
Whether you use heat or cold, apply either for no longer than 20 minutes at a time, and make sure you protect your skin with a thin towel between your body and the ice pack or heating pad.
There are a number of supplements which can be beneficial in easing joint pain and that support your joint health, such as vitamins and minerals. The most important ones are magnesium, calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium is particularly important as it keeps your bones strong and healthy. The mineral magnesium is as important as it is needed for calcium to be absorbed in your bloodstream effectively. Therefore, if you are low in magnesium, calcium will not get to the bones. Research also shows that a magnesium deficiency can increase inflammation. Taking a supplement which contains both of these vital joint minerals is therefore recommended.
A vitamin D deficiency can also lead to weakness in the bones, as well as joint pain. It maintains calcium and phosphorus levels and it keeps the bones healthy.
Exposure to sunlight is the best way to get vitamin D. When sunlight hits the skin, it manufactures the vitamin D that we need on a daily basis. However, because the sun isn’t strong enough for the body to make vitamin D during autumn and winter, it is important to look at your diet and eat foods that are rich in vitamin D (fatty fish, egg yolks and liver) and add supplements.
Meno Blend is a specially formulated vanilla-flavoured food supplement with all the active ingredients you need for optimum health in menopause, including the vitamins and minerals to ease joint pain.