Many people think of arthritis when someone mentions joint pain, but we can experience pain and discomfort in our joints for other reasons as well. One of them is menopause.
What is joint pain?
Joint pain can occur when two or more bones meet and connect in a way that is not healthy. Any damage to the joints from trauma, disease or other health factors can cause pain. Knee pain is the most commonly reported pain, followed by shoulder and hip pain. However, joint pain can affect any joint in the body.
How is menopause associated with joint pain?
Beginning with perimenopause and then into menopause, the levels of estrogen and progesterone decline. That’s because of the activities of the luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, which prompt the ovaries to produce the two aforementioned hormones. This drop-in hormone production, especially estrogen, can result in painful joints.
One of estrogen’s tasks is to reduce inflammation. Once levels decline, joints in the shoulders, neck, elbows, hands, and knees may begin to hurt or worsen if you were experiencing pain previously. You may also begin to notice joint pain in areas you may have injured in the past.
How to manage joint pain naturally?
Don’t let joint pain prevent you from living your life to the fullest! You may not be able to completely eliminate the pain, but you can reach a comfort zone.
Anti-inflammatory foods. You can help reduce joint pain at every meal if you focus on fresh, natural foods and avoid highly processed, fried, and fast food items. A Mediterranean, DASH, or vegetarian-style diet may provide significant relief.
Chili peppers. A compound in chili peppers called capsaicin has the ability to reduce levels of substance P, which sends pain signals to the brain. You can make your own capsaicin remedy by mixing 2 to 3 teaspoons of olive oil with two dashes of ground cayenne. Spread the mixture on your painful joints once or twice a day. This remedy typically burns slightly at first, but the feeling subsides over time. Avoid getting this remedy near your eyes, mouth, or mucous membranes because it will burn a lot.
Green tea. If you love green tea, this remedy is for you. Drink four cups of green tea daily to benefit from its high levels of catechins, which have anti-inflammatory abilities.
Compression sleeves. If your painful knees are cramping your style, then try wearing knee sleeves. They compress your knee area and not only provide comfort but make it less likely you will injure your knees while you are active.
Swimming. This is an excellent exercise for those who have aching knees because there is much less stress on your joints.
Ginger. This common herbal remedy has components that may ease pain-causing chemicals in inflamed joints. Try ginger tea daily or add ginger to your smoothies, soups, stir-fries, salads, or vegetable dishes. A poultice of ginger also can help with painful joints. Mash a three-inch piece of fresh ginger and mix it with enough olive or avocado oil to form a paste. Apply the paste to your painful joints and leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
Turmeric. This yellow spice contains curcumin, a compound with anti-inflammatory powers. You can take turmeric/curcumin supplements or add ½ teaspoon of curcumin to your food every day.
Vitamin C. This potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient also helps make collagen, a major component found in joints. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, including citrus, bell peppers, melons, berries, and leafy greens, but you may also want to take a supplement if your intake of these foods is not strong. Mega-dosing with vitamin C is not recommended; instead, take 200 mg to 300 mg twice to three times a day.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Coldwater fish such as tuna, herring, and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids, an element known for its anti-inflammatory activities. If you don’t eat such fish twice a week or more, then consider a supplement. Fish oil, krill oil, and algae supplements are suggested.
Sunshine. Your body makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun, yet many of us don’t get the 10 to 15 minutes of sun daily that are necessary to make this vital nutrient. If getting the necessary sunshine is not possible, then a vitamin D3 supplement is recommended. Your healthcare provider can test your vitamin D level using a simple blood test and let you know the dose you need to take.
When to see your doctor
If your joint pain becomes debilitating or is affecting your quality of life, then make an appointment to see your doctor. It’s possible you have an underlying condition such as hypothyroidism that is causing your symptoms. Your doctor may order blood tests to check your hormone levels.
Joint pain during menopause is not uncommon, and it can disrupt your life. Often a lifestyle change, such as following an anti-inflammatory diet or supplement use, is instituted, you may experience some significant relief.