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Musculoskeletal Pain During Menopause: Understanding and Managing the Unseen Challenge

14th July 2023

Musculoskeletal Pain During Menopause: Understanding and Managing the Unseen Challenge

Menopause is a significant phase in a woman's life. While hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances are commonly associated with menopause, one often-overlooked symptom is musculoskeletal pain.

This blog aims to shed light on musculoskeletal pain during menopause, its causes, and effective management strategies to improve women's overall well-being during this transitional period.

How menopause affects the body

Menopause is characterized by a decline in Oestrogen and Testosterone levels, which can have far-reaching effects on the body, including the musculoskeletal system. Oestrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density and joint health and testosterone can help with maintaining muscle strength and health.

As oestrogen and testosterone levels decrease, women may experience various musculoskeletal issues, such as:

Reduced oestrogen levels increase the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakened bones. This can lead to fractures, chronic back pain, and skeletal deformities.

Joint Pain
Menopause-associated hormonal changes can lead to joint pain and stiffness, particularly in the hands, wrists, knees, and hips. This discomfort may interfere with daily activities and impact the quality of life.

Connective tissue and tendon pain:
reduced oestrogen can increase the likelihood of conditions such as Achilles Tendinopathy, Plantar Heel Pain and Lateral Hip Pain.

Musculoskeletal pain during menopause can be attributed to a combination of factors, including:

Hormonal Changes
Oestrogen helps regulate inflammation, collagen production, and bone density. As Oestrogen levels decline, it can disrupt these processes, resulting in musculoskeletal discomfort.

Age-related changes to joints, combined with hormonal changes, can exacerbate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, leading to joint pain and reduced mobility.

Sedentary Lifestyle
Menopause can also coincide with a decrease in physical activity due to various factors, such as fatigue, reduced motivation or mood swings. Reduced exercise can contribute to muscle weakness, joint stiffness, and overall pain.

While musculoskeletal pain can significantly impact a woman's quality of life during menopause, several strategies can help manage and alleviate these symptoms:

Regular Exercise
Engaging in physical exercise can help improve muscle strength, joint flexibility, and overall bone health. Physical activity also releases endorphins, promoting a sense of well-being and can help with sleep. A mixture of strength training and cardiovascular exercise is best.

Healthy Diet
Consuming a balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients supports bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, a diet, including fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, may help manage joint pain and inflammation.

Lifestyle Modifications
Maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking can positively impact musculoskeletal health during menopause.

Pain Management Techniques
Over-the-counter pain relief or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can provide temporary relief. However, it is essential to consult with a Pharmacist or GP before using any medication.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend HRT to manage menopausal symptoms, including musculoskeletal pain. HRT involves taking oestrogen and, in some cases, progesterone to replenish hormone levels and alleviate associated discomfort. However, the decision to undergo HRT should be made after careful consideration of individual risks and benefits.

Our View

Musculoskeletal pain during menopause is an often underestimated challenge that can significantly impact a woman's well-being.

Understanding the causes and implementing appropriate management strategies can help alleviate discomfort and improve overall quality of life. By adopting a holistic approach, including exercise, healthy lifestyle choices, and potential medical interventions, women can navigate this transitional phase with greater ease, empowering them to embrace the changes that come with menopause and live life to the fullest.

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