As women get older they often suffer from joint pain. Although this is a common ailment in both men and women embarking on their golden years, joint pain is also a symptom of menopause that can be eased with proper knowledge and treatment.
As a woman approaches menopause, typically between the ages of 45 and 55, her body goes through drastic hormonal fluctuations that can affect her in many ways. Hormones play a major role in a woman’s bone and joint health. When her hormones become imbalanced during menopause she will often experience joint pain. Continue reading to learn more about joint pain, its causes, and the treatment options available.
Joint pain during menopause?
Joint pain, also known as “Arthralgia”, is defined as pain, stiffness, or swelling in or around a joint. There are 360 joints in the human body. Joint pain often occurs in joints of high impact, such as the knees, hips, and back, but many women notice the joints in their hands become stiffer and more painful with age. There are several types of joints in the human body. Below is a list of the joints most commonly associated with joint pain.
Ball and socket joints
Allow for a wide range of rotation and movement. The shoulder and hip are ball and socket joints.
Allow movement but no rotation. There are condyloid joints in the jaw and fingers.
Allow bones to glide past each other. There are gliding joints in the ankles, wrists, and spine.
Allow for movement much like that of a door hinge. The knee and ulna part of the elbow are hinge joints. Pivot joints. Allow bones to spin and twist around other bones. There are pivot joints in the neck and the radius part of the elbow.
Allow for back and forth and side to side motion, but limited rotation. There is a saddle joint in the thumb.
Because joint pain is common in women approaching menopause, some have even used the term “menopausal arthritis” to describe this symptom. It can be an extremely discomforting ailment and make simple tasks and movements almost unbearable. There are common symptoms to help recognize joint pain.
What causes joint pain during menopause?
Like most menopausal symptoms, joint pain is typically caused by hormonal imbalance. As menopause approaches, a woman’s hormones begin to fluctuate, preparing for a permanent decrease in production of the primary hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Although doctors are still unclear exactly how hormones, particularly estrogen, affect joints, most are resigned to the fact that estrogen (specifically a diminished level of estrogen) plays a major role in joint pain during menopause.
Estrogen affects joints by keeping inflammation down. Inflammation is a leading cause of joint pain. As estrogen levels begin to drop during perimenopause, 5 to 10 year time span leading up to menopause, joints get less and less estrogen and pain often is the result.
There are several causes of joint pain not related to hormones. Below is a list of other factors that can cause joint pain:
- Wear and tear
- Weight, diet
- Lack of exercise
- Muscle loss
- Inflammation of the joint
- Metabolic disorders
- Bone diseases
- Tumours and cancer.