Menopause joint pain, medically known as "arthralgia" occurs when the joints become swollen, stiff or painful during menopause. Joint pain associated with menopause is also referred to as "menopause arthritis". Joint pain affects the back, hips, knees and extremities.
As women approach menopause, typically between the age of 45 and 55, their body goes through radical hormonal fluctuations that can affect them in many ways. Menopause occurs when a woman stops ovulating and her periods cease. Perimenopause is the 2-10 years transitional period before menopause (with an average of 4 years).
It remains medically unclear about how exactly hormones, particularly, estrogen, affects joints, however, most medics are of the opinion that it is the reduced level of estrogen which plays a major role in joint pain during menopause.
The female hormone, estrogen affects joints by keeping inflammation down, therefore, as oestrogen levels begin to decline during perimenopause, joints get less and less estrogen and pain is often the result.
Menopause joint pain can also be experienced in many other joints in the body such as the neck, shoulder, jaw and elbows. Some women find that their wrists and fingers become painful. For some women the joint stiffness can be worse first thing in the morning, with swelling around the joints occurring at the end of the day
Some women may experience shooting pain down the arms, legs and back as well as heat within the surrounding area, creating a burning sensation particularly following exercise.
If menopause joint pain becomes chronic this can often lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Compensating for aching joints with other parts of your body may also cause injuries and due to a lack of activity/mobility weight gain, obesity and heart disease can all become health concerns. Menopause weight gain, particularly in the "mid section" area causes a greater strain on the joints.
Joint pain is defined as pain/ache, stiffness or swelling in or around a joint.
Menopause joint pain is usually associated with osteoporosis and arthritis.
Osteoporosis - thinning of the bone due to the inability of the body to produce bone tissue.
Arthritis - simply means "inflammation". Arthritis is used to describe over 100 different types of joint diseases. Among these diseases are osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself.
If lifestyle changes and alternate medicines don't work there are over the counter pain relief meds such as Ibuprofen. Additionally, there are prescription drugs and in some cases surgery which can be explored together with your healthcare professional.
You should always consult your healthcare professional if:-
Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The stages of a woman's live: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause." November 2007
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