Symptoms of Joint Pain
- Joint Warmth
- Tender to the touch
- Reduced pain after resting
- Increased pain during physical activity
What is Joint Pain?
Joint pain, also known by its medical name, arthralgia, is pain or stiffness in one or more ofhormonal imbalance, infection, illness or injury. Arthralgia is used when the condition is non-inflammatory, while arthritis is used when the condition is inflammatory. For most menopausal women, chronic joint pain is a symptom of a hormonal imbalance and is considered to be in the category of arthritis. For many others, joint pain is a symptom of an infection or inflammation.
Types of Joints
A joint, also known as an articulation, is the place in the body where two bones come together. A large majority of the joints in the human body are diarthroses joints, or freely movable joints. They are listed below:
- Condyloid Joints – Condyloid joints are oval shaped and allow angular motion, but no rotation. This occurs between the bones in the palm of one’s hand and finger, as well as between the foot bones and toes. Also occurs in jaws.
- Gliding Joints – Flat surfaces move against each other allowing sliding or twisting without any circular movement. Gliding joints occur in the carpals in the wrist and the tarsals in the ankle, as well as the spine.
- Hinge Joints – Bone joint where a rounded ridge on one bone fits into a concave depression in another permitting only flexion and extension, as in the elbow joints. Basically, hinge joints allow movement in a certain spot to occur.
- Pivot Joints – Pivot joints allow bones to spin and twist around other bones. An example is the joint between the axis and atlas in the neck. Pivot joints can be found in radius part of the elbow and in the neck.
- Ball and Socket Joints – Ball and Socket Joints are where the ball-shaped end of one bone fits into a cup shaped socket on the other bone, thus allowing the widest range of rotation and motion. Examples include the shoulder and hip.
- Saddle Joints – The bones in a saddle joint can rock back and forth and from side to side, but have very limited rotation. The only saddle joints in your body are in your thumbs
Causes of Joint Pain
Joint pain is commonly traced back to a hormonal imbalance, as hormones play a crucial role in healthy joints. Estrogen is known for its anti-inflammatory effect in our bodies, so when a woman enters perimenopause and her hormone levels begin to fluctuate, the end result is chronic inflammation.
There are many other causes of joint pain, besides a hormonal imbalance. When one has a weak immune system, their inflammatory response becomes low, preventing cell regeneration and repair. By preventing cell regeneration and repair, they can experience a gradual tearing of tissues in their joints.
- Poor Diet
- Bone Diseases
- Lyme Disease
- Wear and tear
- Lack of excercise
- Joint inflammation
The most common chronic illness in the United States, arthritis is defined as a joint disorder featuring inflammation. There are hundreds of different types of arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – It is said that one in five Americans have been diagnoses with arthritis or arthritic conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, as well as inflammation of the tissue around the joints.
- Osteoarthritis – Over 20 million people in the United States are affected by this degenerative arthritis known as osteoarthritis. It is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints.
When to See a Doctor
Although menopause related joint pain can be alleviated through daily lifestyle adjustments, dietary changes and several treatment options, it is advised to see a doctor or healthcare professional in the beginning stages of your joint pain. If you are of African heritage, it is important to assess yourself for risk factors associated with sickle-cell anemia. If you are experiencing joint pain, along with a fever, that could signal an infection known as bursitis, an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that lies between skin and tendon. Most importantly, it is advised to track the duration of your joint pain. If your joint pain persists for longer than three to five days, one should seek the attention of their healthcare provider.
Daily Lifestyle Changes
- Exercise – Adopting a gentle exercise regime that will increase your physical exertion can make a difference in your joint pain and stiffness. Working out increases endorphin levels, which raises your threshold for pain, and helps you prevent excess wear and tear on your knees and hips? Most importantly, exercise can help regulate cortisol levels and reduce your inflammation.
- Stress Reduction and Relaxation – Relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, massage, hypnosis, yoga and visualization techniques are all wonderful ways to help treat joint pain caused by stress and minimize the effects on your body during menopause.
- Yoga – Poor posture can result in join pain, so joining a yoga studio or renting a yoga video to watch and participate in your own home is a wonderful idea. Yoga can do wonders for one’s body and mind, which is crucial when dealing with menopausal joint pain.
- Get a Full Night’s Rest: It is vital to get the recommended eight to nine hours of sleep to help alleviate joint pain and reduce stress
- Replenishing Your Diet - Eating more calcium-rich foods, magnesium-rich foods and Vitamin E-foods, like green vegetables, nuts and almonds, are other easily adaptable diet changes to help alleviate and prevent joint pain
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids – Eat oily fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Many fish contain Vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient for strong and healthy bones that can help prevent damaged joints.
- Reduce Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar – High carb diets promote prolonged high levels of insulin, which interferes with cellular metabolism and can spread inflammation. Refined carbohydrates and sugar can slow down the system and put strain on muscles and joints, causing joint pain. Get your sugar from fruits.
- Eat More Fruits – Fruits contain natural anti-inflammatories that will help fight menopausal joint pain, without any harsh chemicals or drugs. Fruits include cherries, berries, pineapples, apples and bananas. Bananas contain bromelain, a strong anti-inflammatory enzyme that helps the body break down protein.
- Eat more Vitamin D – With Vitamin D in one’s diet, it helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage and maintains strong bones. Fortified milk and shrimp are two excellent
Important Trigger Foods to Avoid Bloating
- Artificial sweeteners (sorbitol)
- Dairy products
- Dark meat and skin
- Red meat
- Raw seafood
- Processed food
- Fried food
- Salad dressings
- Chewing gum
- Extremely hot or extremely cold food
Joint Pain Treatment
- Vitamins - Vitamin C helps slow down wear and tear on your joints, keeps free radicals from wreaking havoc and plays an important role in the formation of collagen. Calcium supplements help prevent bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage and maintains healthy and strong bones. B Vitamins help reduce joint inflammation and pain. Glucosamine sulfate, omega 3 fatty acids and proanthocyanadins are all good sources of vitamin supplements to assist in joint pain.
- Alternative Medicine – Chinese medicine (acupuncture) has been a long standing treatment for mood swings around the world. Acupuncture is a medical treatment involving the insertion of sharp sterile needles into the body at specific points according to a mapping of “energy pathways.” With acupuncture, arthritis is called a “Bi” or a “stagnation and stasis” condition. “Bi” conditions, according to their symptoms, can be categorized as intensity of pain, amount of inflammation or heat, swelling and disability. Acupuncture is often effective in reducing arthritic pain and improving mobility.
- Black Cohosh One of the most commonly used herbal remedies is Black Cohosh, a perennial plant that is a member of the buttercup family. It provides powerful phytoestrogens that mimic the hormone’s effects and bind to hormone receptors in the uterus and other parts of the body, alleviating hot flashes. Black Cohosh is also known to relieve hot flashes efficiently and is a good alternative to HRT. It is also used effectively for treating PMS, arthritis and lowering blood pressure. Red Clover, Dong Quai, Ginseng, Kava and evening primrose oil can be used as natural therapies, although there are some risks involved. Herbal supplements are not as closely regulated as prescription drugs and the amount of the herbal product, quality and safety may vary between brands.
- Herbal Remedies – Herbal remedies are useful in reducing inflammation and improving one’s energy. It is a great replacement for anti-inflammatory drugs that can cause further damage if taken for long periods of time. Licorice and peony roots soothe pain and spasms, while Korean ash bark restores flexibility. Chinese lovage root and safflower support proper circulation. The two commonly known herbs for treating joint pain are phytoestrogen and non-estrogenic herbs. Some of the most common phytoestrogen herbs are Saint Johns Wort, Black Cohosh and Dong Quai – all which contain estrogenic components produced by plants and replace some of the missing estrogen hormones experienced as a result of menopause. Although these herbs are known to maintain the balance of key neurotransmitters in the brain, they can also make your body less responsive to producing its own hormones, causing a further decrease of one’s hormone levels. Non-estrogenic herbs are known to nourish one’s hormonal glands into producing its own natural hormones. By stimulating one’s own hormone production, non-estrogenic herbs, such as Macafem. Macafem is grown in the Andes of Peru and has achieved great success in naturally increasing one’s hormone levels.
- Over-the-Counter Medication – It is recommended to use pain relievers for joint pain, such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDS), such as Ibuprofen (Advil), Aspirin (Bayer, Anacin) and Naproxen (Naprosyn or Aleve) and read all labels and instructions extremely carefully before taking them.
- Hormone Therapy Treatments (HRT) - For more severe cases of menopause, women may seek surgical or pharmaceutical treatments, although it is important to keep in mind that there are many studies showing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases a woman’s risk of elevated blood pressure, endometrial and breast cancers, strokes, blood clots and gallbladder disease. It is advised to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional regarding the negative side effects before you begin treatment.