Aside from night sweats and hot flashes, joint pain and body aches are also common symptoms of menopause, affecting up to one in six women between the ages of 45 and 65. These symptoms are often caused by the decline in oestrogen levels during menopause.
Why do women get muscle aches and joint pain during menopause?
- Hormonal changes: Oestrogen and progesterone play a vital role in supporting muscle and joint health, as well as bone health. Oestrogen is essential for bone growth and maturation, as well as the regulation of bone turnover. During menopause, levels of these hormones decline, which can lead to muscle weakness, joint pain and bone loss.
- Bone loss: Osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle, is also common during menopause. Osteoporosis can increase the risk of joint pain and fractures.
- Weight gain: Postmenopausal women often experience changes in body composition, with an increase in fat mass and a decrease in lean mass. This extra weight can stress the joints, leading to pain.
- Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or thyroid: Arthritis is common in women within the age group of menopause. Some women with pre-existing inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, may find that their symptoms worsen during menopause.
Menopause Joint Pain vs. Arthritis Joint Pain
It can be difficult to tell the difference between muscle pain from menopause and muscle pain from arthritis, but there are a few key differences. Menopause-related muscle pain is often diffuse and widespread, while arthritis pain is typically localised to specific joints.
Additionally, menopause-related muscle pain may be accompanied by other symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, while arthritis pain is typically not. If you are experiencing joint pain or body aches during menopause, it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause and get the appropriate treatment.
Symptoms of joint and bone pain during menopause
- Joint pain: Menopausal joint pain typically manifests as a dull, aching discomfort. It can affect various joints, with the knees, hips and wrists most commonly affected. The pain may be intermittent or chronic and can hinder mobility.
- Osteoarthritis: This condition Osteoarthritis, which affects joint cartilage and the underlying bone, can worsen during menopause. Symptoms include joint stiffness, decreased range of motion and pain that worsens with activity.
- Osteoporosis: Bone pain associated with osteoporosis may not be felt until a fracture occurs. Women at this stage may experience pain, especially in the spine or hips, as a result of fractures or the weakening of bones.
- Joint stiffness: Joint stiffness, especially in the morning, can be a common complaint among menopausal women. This stiffness can make it difficult to engage in physical activities.
Treatment options for relieving menopause muscle aches and joint pain
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for muscle aches and joint pain during menopause. The best treatment approach will vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause. Some common treatment options include:
Exercise and physical therapy
Physical therapy can help to improve range of motion, strength and flexibility. A physiotherapist can recommend exercises and stretching techniques that you can do at home to manage your pain. If you are unable to see a physiotherapist in person, you may want to consider trying a virtual physiotherapy service like DocHQ Physio. DocHQ Physio can help you create a personalised exercise programme that is tailored to your individual needs and goals.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce joint and bone pain during menopause. This includes maintaining a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and managing weight to reduce stress on the joints.
Over-the-counter pain relief
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, can help relieve muscle aches and joint pain. However, it is important to use these medications according to the directions on the label and to talk to your doctor before taking them if you have any underlying health conditions.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) involves the administration of oestrogen to counteract hormonal imbalances during menopause. This can help alleviate joint and bone pain however, it comes with potential risks and side effects, therefore it should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
Menopause and MenoBalance Health Checks
To better understand your hormone levels and how they may be affecting your symptoms, you may also want to consider taking our Menopause or MenoBalance Health Checks. Our Menopause Check provides a clear snapshot of their menopausal status by screening Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels, which rise as they near this phase. The MenoBalance Check provides a detailed analysis of the patient’s hormone balance, helping them better understand and manage their symptoms. It’s designed for those who are experiencing mood swings, fatigue or simply seeking a comprehensive understanding of their hormone levels. The test measures Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinising Hormone (LH), Oestradiol, Progesterone, Testosterone and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), and the results enable them to make informed decisions about their hormonal wellbeing.
Both Menopause Check and MenoBalance Check are quick and easy to perform from the comfort of users’ own homes via a fringer-prick blood sample kit. Samples are analysed by ISO and UKAS-accredited UK laboratories, and patients receive a GP-verified online report including guidance and next steps within days. They can also access doctor support in case of critical test results.