Natural Remedies For Peri-menopause Joint Pain
What is peri-menopause?
Peri-menopause affects all women at some point, and although it usually starts in our early 40’s, it can happen at any age from our late teens onwards. Menopause is the end goal, and marks the first anniversary of the end of the last period, but there are lots of hormone changes that happen in the lead up to that. These changes, and the symptoms that sometimes come with them, are known as peri-menopause.
There are around 63 symptoms that have been linked to peri-menopause, but it’s not compulsory to have any or all of them! Around 20% of women have no symptoms at all in fact, and only about 20% have severe symptoms, one of which is peri-menopause joint pain.
Why do we get peri-menopause joint pain?
There are a few reasons why we can get peri-menopause joint pain. Both oestrogen and progesterone have strong anti-inflammatory effects, and their levels drop at various points in the lead up to menopause. That means that the tissues in the joints can lose moisture and elasticity, making them stiff and painful, so it’s important to address hormone levels as part of our treatment.
We’re naturally inclined to move less when our joints hurt, which can often make matters worse. Becoming more sedentary doesn’t help with weight management either, forcing yet more pressure onto our weight bearing joints and making them more painful.
Uric acid levels can also increase as we move through peri-menopause. As uric acid crystals get deposited in the joints, we can get problems like gout and rheumatoid arthritis. High amounts of uric acid can also increase risk of heart disease if they’re allowed to stay high for too long.
We can develop new food intolerances during peri-menopause, which can lead to our joints becoming inflamed. The most common ones are gluten, and plants in the nightshade family. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, and nightshades are potatoes, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes. Try keeping a food diary which tracks your pain against what you’ve been eating.
Often sleep is affected by the hormone fluctuations we see in peri-menopause, and lack of sleep can lower our pain threshold quite significantly.
Pain and inflammation in old injuries can flare in peri-menopause, and sometimes it can take longer than usual for new injuries to heal too.
Other possible causes of peri-menopause joint pain
Whilst peri-menopause is the more common cause of joint pain in middle-aged women, it’s good to be aware of other possible causes too. Auto-immune conditions like Lupus or Sjorgens Syndrome can cause joint pain, fatigue and other symptoms in common with peri-menopause. If you’re worried, speak to your GP.
Natural remedies for peri-menopause joint pain
Herbal remedies for peri-menopause joint pain
About 1/4 of the ladies I see in my clinic have peri-menopause joint pain. I always start by looking for the underlying causes before putting any herbal remedies together for them. During the first consultation I ask all about sleep, digestion, stress, diet, and lots of other factors so I can build up a picture of what’s going on behind the scenes. Inevitably there can be quite wild fluctuations in hormone levels, and herbal remedies are a great way to calm things down and make the whole process much smoother.
Where sleep is a problem, I can make a herbal sleep mix to aid restful, restorative sleep which in turn will lower the pain threshold during the day. There are a number of herbs you can safely use at home to aid restful sleep, and this tea contains some of the stronger ones like Valerian as well as the gentler herbs like Chamomile and Lemon Balm. Likewise, being in constant pain is really stressful, and quite exhausting in itself, so we can use herbs to help the body relax.
Herbs like nettle can be used to help clear uric acid out of the joints and carry it out of the body. It’s harder to get hold of dried nettle tea these days, but nettle grows so plentifully you can easily get it for free just about anywhere! Just make sure you harvest it from somewhere clean, away from roadsides, or fields which have been sprayed with pesticide. The best part to use is the fresh young leaves at the top of the plant, so you may need to cut some plants back and wait for new growth if you’re harvesting after late spring. Nettle makes a great alternative to spinach (do cook it first!) and you can also juice it, or make it into tea.
There are lots of herbs which can help reduce joint pain and inflammation in general, and it’s important to ensure good gut health. If new food intolerances are part of the problem, we need to address why they’ve come about, and usually there’s damage to the gut lining and/or gut microbiome. Herbs combined with some temporary dietary adjustments, and possibly some nutritional supplements can really help to reduce inflammation and relieve peri-menopause joint pain.
Turmeric is a popular herb for reducing joint pain. It is very heating so not suitable for everybody as it can worsen symptoms in some people. That’s why it’s best to see a practitioner if you can.
Exercise and peri-menopause joint pain
Our joints are designed to move, and they don’t like being kept still even when they are hurting. Personally I’ve found that getting regular exercise got rid of my joint pain completely, as well as helping me to lose weight. I love swimming, which is perfect if you need to keep weight off your joints at least to start with. You could also invest in a good pair of trainers or boots and start walking, but running on hard surfaces is not so good for your joints!
Muscle pain and peri-menopause
Whilst we’re here, we should talk about muscle pain in peri-menopause, because it’s so common to see women being misdiagnosed with conditions like fibromyalgia around this time. Muscle pain and stiffness can be really debilitating, but there are lots of things you can do to help yourself, including supplementing magnesium malate, and/or having regular hot Epsom Salts baths before bed.
I’ve found joining a gentle yoga class really helpful in relieving my muscle pain, and that my body now can’t cope without some form of daily movement! Do double check that wherever you spend your working day is set up with the correct ergonomics too, so that you’re not putting extra strain on your body.
Where to get help with peri-menopause joint pain
As always, we need to focus on the underlying causes of peri-menopause joint pain, as well as the pain itself. Depending on how bad it is, and how long you’ve had it, there are a number of tools available. If you’re just looking into self care for peri-menopause joint pain, module 6 of my Rejuven8 programme is really helpful.
Advanced Hypnotherapy is brilliant for pain in general, and can help relieve even very severe, chronic pain as well as reducing the stress that comes with it. Sometimes there are deep rooted psycho-emotional reasons why we can end up with chronic pain, and gently exploring these with the help of hypnosis can allow us to free ourselves from it.
If you’d like to address underlying hormone imbalances, other symptoms and other possible causes of peri-menopause joint pain at the same time, you might like our 90 Day Rescue Programme.
You might also benefit from seeing an osteopath, chiropractor, or physiotherapist particularly if you’ve had a previous accident or injury which is being reactivated at this point.