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Do Your Joints Ache?

Menopause is associated with a variety of hormonal changes that can impact different aspects of health, including joints.



Here are five ways menopause can affect joints:

  • Joint Pain and Stiffness: Many women experience an increase in joint pain and stiffness during menopause. This can be attributed to hormonal changes, particularly the decrease in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen has anti-inflammatory effects and helps maintain joint lubrication. As oestrogen levels drop, joints may become less lubricated, leading to discomfort and reduced flexibility.

  • Osteoarthritis: Menopause can potentially contribute to the development or worsening of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint condition. Oestrogen plays a role in maintaining cartilage health and joint integrity. The decline in oestrogen levels during menopause may contribute to accelerated cartilage breakdown and increase the risk of osteoarthritis-related symptoms.

  • Increased Inflammation: Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to an increase in systemic inflammation. Elevated inflammation levels are associated with joint pain and discomfort. Inflammation can affect the synovial lining of joints, potentially leading to pain and swelling.

  • Reduced Bone Density and Joint Support: The decrease in oestrogen levels during menopause can lead to reduced bone density, which in turn affects the strength of the bones that support the joints. This can make joints more vulnerable to injury and pain.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Some women may experience an increased risk of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome during menopause. Hormonal changes can lead to fluid retention and inflammation in the wrists, potentially compressing the median nerve and causing symptoms such as hand pain, numbness, and tingling.

  • Changes in Muscle Mass: As women age and go through menopause, there is often a decrease in muscle mass. Muscles play an important role in supporting and stabilising joints. Reduced muscle mass can lead to joint instability and potentially exacerbate joint pain.


It's important to note that not all women will experience joint-related issues during menopause, and the extent of these effects can vary. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and weight management can help mitigate some of these joint-related challenges. Staying active with low-impact exercises, such as swimming, walking, and gentle strength training, can promote joint flexibility and muscle strength. If joint symptoms become troublesome, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate management and recommendations.


 

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