Menopause joint pain is another one of those uncomfortable symptoms that can hit during perimenopause and beyond. And having achy, swollen joints can really impact your quality of life. After all, it’s harder to enjoy your usual activities when movement is painful.
But don’t despair. There’s a lot you can do to ease joint pain—or even stop it completely.
From lifestyle changes to medications, there are plenty of effective menopause joint pain treatments out there.
So put your feet up for a few minutes and let’s take a closer look.
In this article 📝
- Can menopause cause aching joints?
- How bad is joint pain in menopause?
- What helps with menopause joint pain?
Can menopause cause aching joints?
Aching joints (also called arthralgia) are common in women who are going through menopause. But does that mean there’s a direct link between menopause and joint pain? Not exactly—the picture is complex.
The thing is that joint pain is a symptom that tends to affect everyone (not just women) more as they get older. And it may start to be more of a problem around the age that women start going through menopause.
So scientists aren’t certain how much of the joint pain experienced by menopausal women is due to menopause and how much is age-related. Plus, there are other factors that can make achy joints more likely, too.
But here’s what we do know:
Does low estrogen cause joint pain?
One of the many important jobs that the hormone estrogen does is to protect your joints and reduce inflammation.
So when your estrogen levels fall during perimenopause and don’t offer as much protection, your joints can become stiff and painful.
You’re also more at risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition where your bones become brittle and weak.
Another problem linked to low estrogen is osteoarthritis. This is a condition where the protective cartilage at the ends of your bones wears away, leading to pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the affected joint.
But osteoarthritis can be caused by a number of other factors, including age, joint injury, having a family history of the condition, and obesity (which puts more strain on your joints).
Lastly, if you go through early menopause–ie menopause before age 45–you have a greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
This has similar symptoms to osteoarthritis, but it’s caused by your immune system mistakenly attacking your joints.
So, essentially, menopause joint pain may be related to or made worse by low estrogen levels, but aging and other factors might play a role, too.
➡️ See also: Menopause & Arthritis: Causes & Treatments
How bad is joint pain in menopause?
Menopause joint pain can feel like aching, stiffness, and swelling. The joints that are most affected tend to be:
You might also have some shooting pains in your back, arms, or legs, and you may experience a burning sensation after a workout.
You might also find that an old joint-related or musculoskeletal injury (maybe one you’d completely forgotten about!) starts to bother you again.
Often, you’ll find that the pain is worse in the morning, because your joints are stiff after not moving all night. Then the soreness might ease up during the day as you move your joints more.
The intensity of pain can also vary a lot between women. It can be anything from a slight stiffness that you barely notice to a severe pain that seriously impacts your everyday life.
If your pain is severe and lasts for longer than a few days, or if you’re also experiencing a fever or weight loss, get in touch with your doctor right away.
What helps with menopause joint pain?
Different approaches and treatments will work for different women, depending on the underlying cause of their joint pain.
For some, lifestyle changes might work wonders, but others may benefit from medical treatment. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best way forward.
Here’s what they might suggest:
- Regular exercise. Exercise may not be the first thing you feel like doing if your joints are sore, but—as long as it’s low impact—it really helps to strengthen your joints and keep them flexible. Try walking, biking, swimming, yoga, or using the elliptical at the gym. Exercise can help with other menopause symptoms too, including insomnia, weight gain, and anxiety.
- A healthy diet. A nutrient-rich, balanced diet is great for your body in all kinds of ways. To boost your joint health, aim for lots of whole grains, seafood rich in omega-3 (such as salmon), and leafy greens. Whole fruit and veggies are a fantastic source of antioxidants, which help to fight any inflammation in your joints. You can also try supplements for menopause joint pain, including: omega-3, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium.
- Giving up smoking. Finding the strength to quit can be hard—no question. But when it comes to your joints, smoking can increase your risk of bone loss and also get in the way of your bones healing. This may make it more likely that you’ll experience joint pain. So try to quit (or cut down) if you can.
- Reducing stress. When you’re stressed, your body can release a hormone called cortisol, and this may increase inflammation in your joints. Anything you can do to help yourself de-stress, then, could help to relieve your aches and pains. That might mean meditation or breathing exercises, or perhaps just making time to do things you enjoy—such as crafting, cooking, gardening, or having coffee with a friend.
- Pain relief. Over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation in your joints and ease the pain. You could also try medication-free methods of pain relief: heat therapy, deep muscle massage, acupuncture, or hypnosis.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Your doctor can test your hormone levels to see if low estrogen may be behind your joint pain. They’ll also talk to you about any other menopause symptoms you might be having. Then you can work together to create a treatment plan to ease your symptoms, which might include hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to increase your estrogen levels.
We hope you find the right treatment soon, so you can go back to being your usual active self.
And remember that the Peanut Menopause community is here to support you as you navigate these tricky waters.
📚 More on menopause:
Introducing, Peanut Menopause
What Happens During Menopause?
How to Deal With Menopause
When Does Menopause Start?
How Long Does Menopause Last?
Painful Sex After Menopause? What to Know
Hot Flashes: Causes, Symptoms, and What to Do
Helpful Info About Post Menopause Symptoms
Do Natural Remedies for Menopause Help?
Menopause & Weight Gain: What to Know
It’s Time to Take Menopause Seriously
Unusual Menopause Symptoms You Might Not Know
Why Are My Breasts Getting Bigger After Menopause?
Menopause Fatigue: What to Know and What to Do
What to Do About Menopause Bloating
Are You Getting Cramps After Menopause?
Essential Oils for Menopause: What Helps?
What You Need to Know About Menopause Mood Swings
What are the Signs Perimenopause is Ending?
Evening Primrose Oil & Menopause: What’s the Story?
Menopause and Sleep: What’s the Link?
Can Menopause Cause High Blood Pressure?