Many women going through menopause experience joint pain, which can be quite uncomfortable to say the least.
It typically starts as stiffness or irritation in affected areas and can progress to become quite painful.
Often, women don't notice it too much at first due to daily distractions, but over time it can become more intense.
Joint pain is just one of many symptoms that menopause can bring, and it can affect women in many different ways.
It can make it difficult to move around or get a good night's sleep, and usually affects weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips, but any joint can be impacted.
It's thought that the drop in oestrogen levels during menopause could be a contributing factor1.
Another important function of oestrogen is to control fluid levels within the body2. Cartilage, which is the tissue that buffers and protects our joints is made up of 80% water. If fluid levels are imbalanced and dehydration sets in, this can lead to joint pain.
Sadly, as women age and reach menopause, our oestrogen levels decline, which means our bones and joints become more susceptible to wear and tear3.
This can lead to a condition called osteoporosis, which can really put a dent in our quality of life. Signs and symptoms of osteoporosis include:
- Groin or thigh pain caused by hip fractures4
- Pain in the fractured area after a fall or physical trauma
- Fractures take longer to heal
- General joint and bone pain, especially in the wrists, vertebra, elbow, pelvis
A bone density (DEXA) scan helps to measure bone strength and quality. The procedure itself is painless and relatively quick, so if you feel like you may have early signs of osteoporosis (osteopenia) or you are perimenopausal and wish to know the status of your bone health, contact your GP for more information5.
Now a little background on the topic has been outlaid, whether you wish to use preventative or reductive measures to help with joint pain during menopause, read on for a few supplements and lifestyle recommendations…
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal health. It is predominantly found in our bones, with as much as 50-60% of dietary intake being utilized to support bone strength and quality.
For those experiencing the symptoms of menopause, magnesium can prove to be a beneficial supplement as it aids in countering insomnia, mood dysregulation, and fatigue. This recommendation is applicable to all menopausal individuals, irrespective of whether joint pain is present or not.
Although you can find magnesium in foods like dark chocolate and leafy greens, it can be hard to consume enough for therapeutic benefits through your diet alone. So, as a precaution, supplementing with magnesium is your best bet. Trust me, your body will thank you for the extra support!
Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium and Vitamin D both play a significant role in maintaining strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. Taking both of these essential nutrients together can help support bone integrity and reduce joint pain.
A study predicted that individuals over 50 with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to experience discomfort in their hip and knee joints. If the deficiency is left unaddressed, the pain could get worse over time6.
Glucosamine’s main role in the body is to cushion and lubricate joints and connective tissues7. Although our bodies naturally produce this amino sugar, supplementing with it during times of physical stress can be incredibly beneficial.
Additionally, glucosamine has powerful antioxidant properties that can help reduce inflammation in and around joints, ultimately preventing wear and tear and discomfort.
It's even been suggested that glucosamine injections may be just as effective as corticosteroid injections for joint pain. There's no denying that supplementing with glucosamine is a smart choice for anyone looking to support their joint health.
As we get older, our body naturally loses collagen. This process begins as early as our 30s and continues to decrease over time. To maintain our structure and health, we can supplement collagen into our diet.
Collagen is often associated with enhancing the appearance of our skin, hair, and nails, but it also plays a crucial role in supporting our bones and connective tissue8. Studies have shown that collagen helps to reduce inflammation and pain by lubricating and cushioning our joints.
Curcumin, an active compound discovered in turmeric and utilized for medicinal purposes for many years, is an outstanding superfood. It was found that it offers a range of health benefits, including reducing joint pain and boosting overall well-being. The main benefits of curcumin are:
- It’s a potent anti-inflammatory
- It has been shown to have anti-cancer properties
- Improve metabolic disease
- Boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor which helps with brain memory and function9
- May lower the risk of heart disease
- May help improve arthritis
Simply ingesting turmeric alone will not provide enough curcumin to reap therapeutic benefits and reduce joint pain. Supplementing with a good quality turmeric supplement is key. Our turmeric supplement here at Purolabs also contains ginger which has studied pain relief effects and black pepper to help with absorption10.
Taking supplements can really help alleviate menopausal joint pain, but you'll get even better results if you make some lifestyle changes too.
When you carry extra weight, it puts more stress on your joints and can make the pain worse. Unfortunately, menopause can make it tough to lose weight because of things like anxiety, insomnia, and adrenal fatigue. But keeping a healthy weight is an important factor to consider.
Although many articles outline that weight loss is ‘impossible’ during menopause, do not be disheartened. I’ve clinically helped many women lose weight during menopause, the key is to reduce stress. Extreme calorie counting or intense exercise are counterintuitive and will stress the already fatigued adrenals. Moderation, although difficult, is key.
Stress reduction techniques are also important to adopt as stress has been shown to biologically increase inflammation11. Increased inflammation will exacerbate any existing joint pain and discomfort. Daily stress reduction techniques are important. Consider adopting a couple of the below pointers into your daily routine:
- Connect more often with loved ones. Pick up the phone, grab a coffee, join a book club, anything that helps you connect to those around you
- Breathing exercises are great to help calm and regulate the nervous system, to help reduce stress
- A bubble bath or a great book before bed can do wonders, improve the quality of your sleep which helps you better manage stressful situations the following day
- Although not for everyone, yoga or meditation can be powerful stress-fighting tools12.
For those looking for general menopausal support, our Meno Complex is a great addition to your supplement routine and complements all of the tips outlaid in this article.