Joint pain in the menopause: what helps?
Joint pain is one of the most common complaints in old age and also occurs more frequently during the menopause. Exercises that you can easily integrate into your everyday life will ease the condition.
Where does joint pain come from?
Older people in particular are familiar with joint pain. The complaint often occurs as a symptom of arthrosis – a wear and tear of the joints. Other causes include rheumatism, gout or oestrogen deficiency during the menopause. In principle, it can affect any joint, but arthralgia is most common in the fingers, knee or hip.
Joint pain during the menopause
The fact that women produce less oestrogen during the menopause also affects the joints. When oestrogen levels drop, blood circulation slows which curtails the supply of nutrients. In addition, pain is felt more strongly because the hormones that normally relieve the sensation of pain are in short supply. This is why many women in the menopause struggle with joint pain or stiff joints in the morning. In these cases, movement is the answer: specific exercises will relieve the pain and promote blood circulation.
Recognising oestrogen deficiency as a cause of joint pain
An indication that an oestrogen deficiency is the cause of joint pain can be derived from the woman’s medical history. If she had never had problems with her joints before the menopause, the lacking hormones are the most likely cause. Nevertheless, it's advisable to seek medical advice if the pain is severe. Although hormone replacement therapy could quickly bring clarity, the associated health risks mean that a doctor should first be consulted.
Tips to relieve joint pain
Gentle exercise and a balanced diet are key when it comes to joint pain. As a general rule: get as much exercise as possible that is easy on the joints. Alternating showers or massaging the affected joint also significantly stimulates circulation. If the pain is acute, however, it is also important to keep the joint still, elevate it and cool the affected area. Use traditional cooling products or rub in a suitable oil such as peppermint.
Exercise: get the joints moving
A common problem with joint pain is the pain that arises after a period of inactivity. Specific exercises will help get rusty joints going again and ensure that the synovial fluid is regularly replaced. Swimming, cycling and cross-country skiing are ideal, as well as walking, yoga and aquafit. These activities promote blood circulation and ensure that cartilage, bones and connective tissue are well supplied with nutrients. Strengthening the muscles around the joints will also ease the condition.
Diet: eat the pain away
Eating lots of vegetables, herbs and spices and plenty of fish will keep the body fit and able to nourish itself from the nutrients provided.
The antioxidants in vegetables strengthen the immune system.
Turmeric, fish and flaxseed oil have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach or lettuce have a pain-relieving effect.
Pain can also feel stronger when serotonin levels are low. For supplies of the happiness hormone, look to oats, cashews, chocolate or milk, for example. Last but not least, there is a substance in olive oil that works similarly to the active ingredient ibuprofen, which is found in many painkillers.
Treating joint pain during the menopause
If large joints such as the knee or hip are affected, natural therapies such as acupuncture or treatment with fish oil capsules (omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect) can help, as well as plenty of exercise. If the pain occurs mostly in the finger joints during menopause, relax the joints with regular massages or specially designed balls.