Do your knees creak when you bend them? Is it hard for you to straighten your back when standing up? Do you feel pain in your hips when you start to walk?
Joint discomfort is a common symptom of menopause. Between the ages of 45-55, a woman’s body experiences hormonal changes that can affect joints in a variety of ways. The female sex hormone, estrogen, plays an important role in a woman’s bone and joint health. Estrogen is important for regulating fluid levels in the body, and with declining levels of the hormone, the body becomes less efficient at processing fluids. This can lead to the dehydration of joints and tendons which may result in swollen and discomfort joints.
Declining estrogen levels may also lead to weight gain, another contributing factor to joint discomfort.
Joint discomfort is accompanied by stiffness and inflammation, and can affect the range of motion, especially in the morning, or when getting up after extended periods of sitting. Generally, the body loosens up with movement during the day. Joints which experience high impact such as the hips and knees, tend to be most affected, but also joints in the neck, back, elbows and fingers can be impacted.
Joint discomfort can cause a woman’s sense of balance to be off. Stiffness and muscle pain can lead to changes in posture, when the body uses compensation patterns for certain motions. Tight shoulders and cramping muscles can also cause headaches.
But the most important thing is to remain calm. Stress caused by sudden changes in your body will only worsen the symptoms, as stress causes your body to release cortisone, a hormone that can lead to inflammation. To avoid these symptoms, it’s really important to find ways to reduce stress, relax and treat your joints with appropriate exercise and balanced nutrition.