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Joint discomfort can show up in a number of ways, from a dull ache in your lower back to a sharp twinge in your hip or stiffness in the left knee. But there’s a common thread for these aches and pains: menopause can up your chance of experiencing them. In fact, a full 48% of Midi patients complain of joint pain and bone loss. 

For many women, this increased risk is due to hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menopause transition, although age-related joint pain is also common after you hit your 45th birthday. If left untreated, joint pain can limit your movement and disrupt your daily life. But evidence-based solutions provide welcome relief for stiff, sore joints (and any other menopause symptoms you’re experiencing). 

You can often treat joint pain at home, and working with a healthcare provider to address any underlying menopause symptoms can help. Midi clinicians are trained menopause specialists who can help you understand the “why” behind your menopausal body changes and offer a range of solutions, including prescription medications and lifestyle coaching. 

Read on for more about treatments for joint pain and learn exactly why you’re reaching for your pain reliever meds more often than usual these days. 

Causes of Joint Pain During Menopause

If your joints are aching during menopause, one of these common causes could be at the root of the issue.

Hormonal Fluctuations

Menopause is marked by a steep decline in estrogen levels. This hormonal shift can trigger a wide range of menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and, yes, joint pain. 

So what do your hormones have to do with an uncomfortably stiff knee or achy back? Estrogen plays a vital role in muscle elasticity, joint lubrication, and overall joint health, so when estrogen levels drop during midlife, you may start to notice that once-supple joints are feeling tight and maybe even sore. Depleted estrogen levels also leave your cartilage more vulnerable to damage, increasing your risk of joint injuries. 

Age-Related Wear and Tear

A lifetime of movement can catch up with you in the form of joint pain. And if you’re already dealing with any age-related joint issues, menopause may exacerbate them. 

Additionally, arthritis is much more prevalent in women over the age of 45. It typically progresses gradually, while menopause-related joint pain may have a more sudden onset. Tracking your pain and discomfort and discussing symptoms with your doctor can help you identify the cause of your joint issues. 

Lifestyle and Environmental Factors

Your food choices, activity level, and lifestyle can all impact your chance of experiencing joint pain. Foods that can induce inflammation, such as processed foods or snacks high in sugar or sodium, may negatively affect your joints, and the same goes for high-intensity exercises that place too much stress on the joints.  

Weight also plays a significant role in joint pain. If you are overweight, you may be more likely to develop joint pain during menopause, since excess weight and inflammation put stress on your joints

Surprisingly, stress can contribute to joint inflammation and tension too. Chances are, you’re dealing with high-anxiety situations these days, whether increased responsibilities at work, the pressure of caring for aging parents, or financial worries. But if you’re able to squeeze stress management techniques into that busy schedule (meditation or exercise, for example) it could benefit your joints along with your overall mental health.  

Of course, everyone’s menopause journey is unique. To get personalized recommendations based on your symptoms and health history, you can book a virtual visit with a menopause specialist through a platform like Midi.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Joint Pain in Menopause

While the most telltale symptom of joint pain is, well, joint pain, it looks different for everyone. Read on for other more specific symptoms to keep an eye out for and learn when to inform your doctor of what’s going on. 

Common Symptoms of Menopausal Joint Pain

Joint pain can set in at any point during menopause. Some women experience it as one of the first symptoms of perimenopause while others dodge joint discomfort until they are nearly postmenopausal—or don’t notice it at all. Your weight, activity level, past injuries, and other lifestyle factors can all impact the timing and intensity of your joint pain and discomfort. 

Additionally, joint pain shows up differently for everyone. Some people experience stiffness in their load-bearing joints, like their knees and ankles, while others may feel a sharp pain in their hands, elbows, or shoulders. You may notice that the pain isn’t consistent from day to day or even hour to hour (many women report that their pain is worse at the beginning of the day, for example).

Tracking your symptoms and when your pain is at its peak can help you zero in on possible solutions. For example, getting a new, supportive pillow could help prevent shoulder and neck stiffness in the morning, while doing fifteen minutes of yoga before bed may keep your hips from aching while you fall asleep

When to Seek Medical Advice

If your joint pain comes on suddenly, lasts for several hours, or is so persistent or severe that it disrupts your daily life, it’s time to contact a doctor. Menopausal joint pain, if left unaddressed, can significantly impact your quality of life. Additionally, if the pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, or warmth around the joints, seek medical advice ASAP. 

But menopausal joint pain doesn’t need to be severe to warrant medical attention. Early diagnosis is paramount in managing menopausal joint pain effectively, and detecting and addressing issues early on can prevent further complications and improve long-term outcomes.

You can expect your healthcare provider to conduct a physical examination and possibly order diagnostic tests to rule out other potential causes of joint pain. This is where a detailed history of your symptoms comes in handy. If you can go into your appointment with notes on where, when, and how your symptoms manifest, your healthcare team will be better equipped to guide you to a personalized solution. 

Managing and Relieving Joint Pain

There are multiple evidence-based solutions for soothing joint pain and stiffness. Here are some of the most common paths of treatment that your healthcare team might suggest. 

Lifestyle Changes 

Your first plan of attack will likely be to make changes to your lifestyle that promote joint and bone health. For example, if you are overweight, your doctor may have you kick off a gentle exercise routine, like daily walks, to address immediate joint pain discomfort and promote overall well-being. Conversely, if you engage in a lot of high-impact physical activity like running, dancing, rock climbing, or HIIT, you may have to trade those exercises for routines that are easier on your joints. 

If your pain is highly localized or related to a past injury, your doctor may refer you to physical therapy. A physical therapist can create a tailored exercise plan, focusing on joint-friendly movements to alleviate pain and improve overall mobility. Consistency is key, and gradually increasing the intensity of your activities can contribute to sustained joint health.

Medical Treatments and Therapies

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to ease the pain in your joints, you and your doctor have a variety of medical interventions to choose from. What your doctor prescribes will depend on your symptoms, the root cause of your pain, and your health history. 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain. Sometimes, your healthcare provider may prescribe stronger pain relievers for more severe symptoms (if you have a past injury contributing to pain or if your pain levels are severe enough to affect mobility and well-being, for example). 

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is another effective option. HRT addresses menopausal joint pain by restoring estrogen levels. This is most likely to be prescribed if you are experiencing several other symptoms related to hormonal fluctuation, such as hot flashes, insomnia, and loss of muscle mass. 

Your physician may also encourage you to explore a holistic path to wellness, which could include acupuncture, massage, and herbal supplements. While many of these therapies are still being formally studied, they show promise in empowering women to sail through menopause without discomfort

To learn more about the different types of treatment available for joint pain and other menopause symptoms, book a visit with Midi Health. Our clinicians are experts in women’s midlife health and can guide you to a care plan that takes your specific symptoms and health history into account.  

Role of Diet and Exercise in Managing Joint Pain

Your diet and nutrition affect your body’s comfort level throughout menopause. For example,  if the root cause of your joint pain is swelling around your joints, an anti-inflammatory diet (rich in healthy fats, produce, and fiber-rich foods) may help, as can cutting out foods that may increase inflammation, such as processed foods. 

Consistent low-impact exercise can also be a powerful tool for reducing joint pain. Yoga, tai chi, swimming, and gentle walking help keep the joints lubricated and flexible while contributing to cardiovascular health. Don’t push yourself past your limits, though—overexercising can cause more permanent injuries.

Preventive Measures for Menopausal Joint Pain

Regular health check-ups are essential for early detection and intervention. Routine assessments enable healthcare professionals to monitor joint health, identify potential issues, and implement timely preventive measures. Your doctor can also conduct regular screenings for bone and joint health, including bone density tests, which can help identify potential issues before they escalate.

How Midi Can Help You

If you’re in perimenopause or menopause and want guidance from clinicians who specialize in women’s midlife health, book a virtual visit with Midi today. 

Hormonal change is at the root of dozens of symptoms women experience in the years before and after their period stops. 

Our trained menopause specialists can help you connect the dots to guide you towards safe, effective solutions.

Whether you need personalized guidance or a prescription routine to tackle symptoms, we’ve got you covered. Learn more here.

FAQs About Joint Pain in Menopause

Does menopause joint pain go away?

Menopause joint pain may lessen over time, but its duration varies among individuals. Adopting a joint-friendly lifestyle and seeking treatment can significantly help in reducing joint pain intensity and longevity.

What vitamin is good for menopause joint pain?

Vitamins such as vitamin D and calcium are beneficial for menopause joint pain, since they aid in bone health and may reduce inflammation. Incorporating a balanced diet rich in these nutrients can be helpful.

What joints are inflamed during menopause?

During menopause, commonly inflamed joints include knees, hips, and hands, but inflammation can occur in any joint. The severity and location of joint pain can vary based on individual health factors.

How can I reduce inflammation during menopause?

To reduce inflammation during menopause, adopt a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, exercise regularly, manage stress effectively, and consider natural supplements under medical guidance.

Is joint pain a common symptom of menopause?

Yes, joint pain is a common symptom of menopause, often correlating with other menopausal changes. Many women experience varying degrees of joint discomfort during this transitional period.

Can hormone replacement therapy help with menopause joint pain?

Hormone replacement therapy can potentially help with menopausal joint pain, but it's not suitable for everyone. It's important to discuss risks and benefits with a healthcare provider.

What lifestyle changes can help manage menopause-related joint pain?

Managing menopause-related joint pain can be aided by maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, adopting a balanced diet, and practicing stress reduction techniques.

Are there any specific exercises that are beneficial for joint pain in menopause?

Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga are beneficial for menopausal joint pain. Incorporating strength training and flexibility exercises can also help in managing discomfort.

How does menopause-related joint pain differ from other types of joint pain?

Menopause-related joint pain is often linked to hormonal fluctuations, typically presenting as stiffness and discomfort in various joints, and may be accompanied by other menopausal symptoms.

What are the best natural remedies for menopause joint pain?

Natural remedies for menopause joint pain include herbal supplements like turmeric and ginger, fish oil supplements, acupuncture, and home therapies like applying heat or cold packs to affected joints for relief.

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