How do you get out of bed every day? Do you leap out of bed full of the joys of spring or are you slow to move, shuffling, moaning and groaning with all the aches and pains? Or maybe you’re somewhere in between where you are a bit stiff, but once you get going, you are ok. Joint stiffness, arthritis, aches and pains are common in the peri-to-post menopause years and in this blog, I am going to look at what causes it, and give tips for treating menopause joint pain naturally.
Menopause Joint Pain
Whilst joint pain, stiffness, general aches and pains are common in the peri-to-post menopause years, so too are more complex issues like:
- Hip pain or gluteal tendinopathy
- Bursitis and tendonitis,
- Frozen shoulder
- Plantar fasciitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Menopausal Joint Pain: What’s going on?
If we look at joint pain, arthritis, stiffness, and general aches and pains without the menopause label attached to it, what it is, is essentially inflammation.
Inflammation of the joint can be caused by general wear and tear, injury, eating the wrong types of foods, smoking and a lack of exercise.
And then in terms of menopause, oestrogen is joint, bone, ligament tendon, and collagen protective. So, when we have less of its protective factor, it can bring on or exacerbate existing pain and discomfort.
Menopause Joint Pain: A Holistic Perspective
But if we look at this holistically, we can see inflammation as messages from the body. For example, with the shoulder, where are you carrying too much? What are you shouldering that you need to put down?
The lower back is often indicative of a lack of support. We store trauma in the hips and the knees tend to be about major change and our ability to move through that change.
In addition to that, tendons don’t like hormonal change – in puberty we see lots of sprains and strains, in pregnancy, we see pelvic girdle syndrome, and at menopause, we tend to see frozen shoulders and plantar fasciitis.
There is also a link between the frozen shoulder and blood sugar balance in menopause.
We always need to be looking at what’s going on beyond just the mechanical, because at menopause we need to be prioritizing ourselves and we need to be allowing the body the space and capacity to go through this transition.
If we are carrying a load from other people, if we’re spinning lots of plates, juggling lots of balls, we will not be able to honour the process that we are going through. And the body will let us know through signs and symptoms.
We are taught that these symptoms of menopause are things that we must get rid of. But when we can view them as messages from the body, we can show ourselves a lot more compassion and sit back and reflect on what we really need.
Tips for Treating Menopause Joint Pain Naturally
Remove Sources of Inflammation
- Inflammatory foods: gluten, dairy, soy, corn
- Processed foods
- Trans fats, hydrogenated oils
- Vegetable and seed oils
Food to help with painful joints and stiffness
- Anti-inflammatory spices – turmeric, ginger and garlic
- Anti-inflammatory polyphenols – all types of berries, leafy greens, flax seeds and olives
- Anti-inflammatory herbs – nettle and devil’s claw
- Phytoestrogens to help with oestrogen balance – Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts), maca, flax seed and chickpeas
- Collagen-rich foods – bone broth, cod and eggs
- Healthy fats and lots of water for smooth joint movement
Exercise for Menopausal Joint Pain
A lot of women get to this stage, and everything hurts and so they stop exercising.
And of course, if you have a mechanical issue you do want to work with a body-work professional and take their advice on this, but the general rule is to keep moving.
The best type of exercise for menopause in general, but particularly for joint pain and stiffness is strength training.
Strength training is joint and bone protective. With strength training, we can build up the muscle around the joint to be more protected and stable.
In addition, we want flexibility, and this is where yoga is invaluable.
Yoga helps with flexibility of course, but also stability and strength. Plus, it’s calming and it helps to reduce those stress levels and overall inflammation in the body.
Both yoga and strength training will help with bone health, something we do need to be aware of particularly in the post-menopause years. Bone health builds on what has been discussed above and you can read my blog on bone health here.
Homeopathic Remedies for Joint Pain
There are numerous homeopathic remedies for joint pain but these are two of my favourites – both of which you will find in a basic homeopath kit:
Arnica – useful for general aches and pains of muscles and joints especially after overexertion or overuse. Muscles may feel tired and bruised.
Rhus Tox – a great arthritis remedy which is well indicated when it’s a case of worse for being still and better for movement. If you get out of bed and are very stiff and uncomfortable, but better once you get going, then Rhus Tox would be a great remedy to try.
Like all things in menopause, improving joint pain and stiffness requires a holistic approach but getting the fundamentals of good nutrition and hormone-friendly movement right will go a long way to improving symptoms.
If you need any help in this regard why not book a free discovery call?
P.S. Get started with my free download ‘Thriving in the Menopause’.