Menopause and Arthritis: Exploring the Unseen Link Between Hormones and Joint Pain
May 25, 2023
We all have heard about the classic “change of life” symptoms that come with menopause. While you may know about the hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances, there’s another symptom that isn’t talked about as much: arthritis. Yes, you read that right. The joint pain you’re feeling, if you’re going through menopause, could be linked to hormonal changes associated with this time of life for women.
Arthritis and Women
Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and inflammation. It’s estimated that over 54 million adults in the United States have some form of arthritis, and women are disproportionately affected. In fact, women are two to three times more likely than men to develop arthritis. While the exact cause of arthritis is not known, research has suggested that hormones may play a role.
The Role of Estrogen in Orthopedic Issues
During menopause, a woman’s body undergoes a decrease in estrogen production. Estrogen is a hormone that helps regulate a wide range of bodily functions, including bone health. As estrogen levels decline, women may experience a loss of bone density, making them more susceptible to developing osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures. Additionally, estrogen plays a role in the regulation of inflammation in the body, which is a key factor in the development of arthritis.
Research has shown that women who go through menopause at an earlier age may be at a higher risk for developing arthritis. It’s also possible that women who experience menopause before the age of 45 are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis, than those who experienced menopause after the age of 45. Additionally, women who have had a hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus, may also be at a higher risk for developing arthritis.
What to Do If You’re Experiencing Joint Pain During Menopause
But what does this mean for you? If you’re experiencing joint pain during menopause, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider. They can help you determine the best course of treatment to alleviate your symptoms. While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be recommended in some cases, it’s important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor. HRT has been associated with an increased risk of certain health issues, such as breast cancer, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.
In addition to medical treatment, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your arthritis symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and eating a balanced diet can all help improve your overall health and reduce inflammation in the body. Incorporating low-impact exercises, such as yoga or swimming, can help improve joint flexibility and reduce pain. Additionally, using heat or cold therapy, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers, can provide temporary relief from joint pain.
When to Call Beacon
While the link between menopause and arthritis may not be fully understood, it’s clear that hormones play a role in the development of this condition. Women who are experiencing joint pain or other symptoms of arthritis should speak with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment. With proper care and management, women can continue to lead active and healthy lives during and after menopause.
Don’t let arthritis slow you down. If you have joint pain or stiffness, consider making an orthopedic specialist at Beacon your next stop. Our expert doctors can help get you back to leading the life you love. Schedule an appointment online anytime.