While menopause is a natural part of healthy aging, many women may find themselves struggling with increased levels of pain during this time. Whether it’s the retriggering of an old injury, frequent headaches, or increased joint pain in the shoulders, knees, or hips, the hormonal changes that come with menopause can cause additional discomfort. The good news for women experiencing pain from menopause is that you are not alone – and that there are simple things you can do to help manage it.
“I always tell my patients to view aging a gift,” says Dr. Robert Dean, founder of AROmotion. “Yes, we are going to experience changes but these things are all manageable as long as we are willing to make some minor modifications to our daily routine. The same is true for women going through menopause and experiencing new or increased joint pain.”
What Is Menopause?
“To put it simply, menopause happens when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops and it’s typically marked one year from the cessation of monthly periods,” says Dean. “While this is a natural progression of the female body, it can come with symptoms such as hot flashes, weight gain, and increased pain. It’s important for women going through menopause to talk openly with their doctors because these symptoms can be treated for less disruption to everyday life.”
According to Dr. Dean, the average age for menopause is the early 50’s although this can vary widely based on factors such as genetics, underlying health conditions, and hormone levels.
What Is the Connection Between Menopause and Joint Pain?
“These symptoms occur because the body is responding to lower levels of hormones – specifically, estrogen and progesterone,” says Dean. “Estrogen plays a key role in helping to manage inflammation. So, as your levels drop, you may experience increased joint pain especially in your knees, hips, and shoulders.”
Thankfully, the stigma around menopause has been lifting, with more doctors sharing information and tips for managing the symptoms and more patients sharing their personal stories.
“Menopause is something that every woman will go through, so it is something we should embrace and discuss openly,” says Dr. Dean. “If you are going through menopause and experiencing an increase in joint pain, it’s important to have an open and honest discussion with your doctor because there are things that can be done to manage the pain.”
While prescription and over-the-counter medications will vary from patient to patient, Dr. Dean has a short checklist for his patients to help them manage their joint pain during menopause:
Keep moving. You don’t have to run a marathon or turn in an hour of cardio at the gym. 30 minutes of low-impact movement each day will help loosen your joints and muscles while also burning extra calories. You can make it social by going out for a brisk walk with your significant other, friends, or your pup. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine to ensure you are protecting the areas of your body that are sensitive to pain.
Watch what you eat. It’s no secret that our metabolisms change as we age, and with menopause comes the potential to gain weight more easily – and weight gain can take a toll on your joints. This does not mean that you have to deprive yourself; rather, you just need balance! Fill up with lean proteins like fish and chicken alongside seasoned veggies; avoid processed foods and refined sugars; drink plenty of water. And indulge from time to time with a glass or two of heart-healthy wine or some dark chocolate!
Find your calm. Aging can feel stressful at times, especially as we learn to adapt to new ways of healthy living. Don’t let the stress get the best of you! Make time to relax both your body and mind to reduce tension and worry. Some helpful activities include gentle yoga, using a meditation app, journaling, taking a hot bath, or treating yourself to a spa day. Hint – regular massages can also do wonders for helping to manage pain!
Sleep. The idea that we need less sleep as we age is just a myth. Most adults need at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep to feel good the next day. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, limit the use of electronics in the bedroom, and make sure you are sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress. If it’s more than 15 years old….it’s probably time for a new one!
“Everyone deserves to age healthily and happily,” says Dr. Dean. “Changes like menopause are inevitable, so why not embrace them and enjoy the ride while doing what we can to keep pain at bay?”
If you are going through menopause and are struggling to manage your joint pain, or if you have been living with chronic knee, hip or shoulder pain, AROmotion may be able to help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Dean to see if you are a candidate for our non-surgical treatment that has helped more than 1,800 patients stop their joint pain fast.
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