Arthritis and Menopause

by WV Marshall

So, are those aches and pains indicative of something more than a woman’s joints rebelling against getting out of bed or a chair, or making a fist? Could be.

Estrogen

Estrogen – that hormone that helps to make us us – could play a role in the development of several forms of arthritis (there are more than 100 types so far!), such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Estrogen may play a function in osteoarthritis development (OA).

Estrogen is a hormone that both men and women produce, albeit women have higher levels.

Women’s estrogen levels drop as they approach menopause.

Because OA is most typically detected in postmenopausal women, researchers have looked into the probable link between OA and menopause.

Types of Arthritis

Arthritis can be classified as either inflammatory or non-inflammatory, according to www.medicinenet.com.

Inflammatory arthritis, which features inflammatory white blood cells in joint fluid, includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus arthritis and gout.

Forms of non-inflammatory arthritis include

  • osteoarthritis,
  • arthritis of thyroid disease,
  • post-injury arthritis
  • and other forms.

Menopause may cause joint pain affecting knees, shoulders, neck, elbows, or hands – even old joint injuries could make themselves known again.

Because estrogen helps to reduce inflammation, the decline in its levels may lead to inflammation, causing discomfort and menopause-related arthritis.

The most common symptoms of menopausal arthritis include:

  • Joint pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Joints that look red or feel hot to touch
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Clicking, cracking, or grating noises with movement
  • Joint deformities
  • Weak or stiff muscles surrounding the affected joint

The thing to remember is that while not all joint pain experienced during perimenopause represents arthritis, research has found increased frequency of both inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis in women experiencing menopause.

Arthritis symptoms may be accompanied by menopausal symptoms such as:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness

Other Reasons for Joint Pain

Dehydration is another cause of joint discomfort during menopause.

When the body is dehydrated, uric acid can build up in the joints, causing inflammation. Estrogen is a key player in fluid regulation, so it affects your dehydration levels as well. When estrogen levels drop, the body’s ability to hold on to fluid drops as well.

Estrogen deficiency can also lead to weight gain and obesity.

Obesity puts additional strain on joints, causing them to hurt.

Inflammatory responses that develop as a result of weight increase might also contribute to weight gain.

Although mild to severe symptoms can be treated with physical therapy and medication, there is no cure for menopausal arthritis.

Some of the most common medications for arthritis include non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and painkillers such as acetaminophen.

A steroid injection can be delivered directly into the afflicted joint to alleviate inflammation and pain in more severe situations.

If you have concerns that that ache may not be just an ache but symptomatic of something more, check with your medical provider and together you can plot a course of action.

mySysters is an app for women in perimenopause and menopause. Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day named mySysters the Best App for Women in Perimenopause and a Must Have App for Women.

The preceding information does not constitute medical advice or treatment.