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Joint pain and menopause

Joint pain can be a symptom of the menopause

Why does menopause cause joint pain?

Joint pain affects many people as they get older and is also common among menopausal women. Aches, stiffness and swelling around the joint and sometimes heat are typical symptoms of menopausal joint pain. These may be worse in the morning, improving as the day continues.

Joints which experience high impact such as the hips and knees tend to be most affected by this so called ’menopausal arthritis.’ Hands and fingers can also be affected. High impact exercise such as jogging can exacerbate the problem, although this is often eased with rest.

The hormone oestrogen has an important role in maintaining joint and bone health. It is not certain how it does this, but it is thought that it works by minimising swelling around the joint. As you reach the menopause, levels of oestrogen in your body begin to drop. This gives rise to common menopause symptoms including hot flushes and night sweats, and may also result in swollen and painful joints.

Dehydration can also cause joint pain because of a build up of uric acid which can cause inflammation in your joints. Oestrogen is also important for regulating fluid levels in your body, and with falling levels of the hormone, you find that your body is unable to retain water efficiently.

Diet, lifestyle and home remedies for joint pain

It is important to reduce the pressure of repetitive strain, such as jogging on hard roads, to protect your joints. At the same time though, keeping them flexible will reduce joint pain. Some exercises such as yoga and swimming are beneficial for strengthening your muscles and joints without exerting too much pressure on them.

Diet can have a positive influence on your joint health. Many fruit and vegetables have properties which reduce inflammation. Having a balanced diet is not only healthy and will help you with many menopause symptoms, but will keep your weight level correct. Being overweight will add extra stress onto your joints, increasing your problem.

Calcium is particularly important as it keeps your bones strong and healthy. As you are going through the menopause you may find a calcium supplement beneficial. However, for calcium to be absorbed into your bloodstream effectively, it is important to also have a high intake of magnesium, achieved by including nuts, wholegrains and dried fruit into your diet.

Alternatively, taking a calcium and magnesium supplement would provide some of the same benefits. Some women find that taking magnesium on its own is very effective, as it helps to relax tense muscles.

Stress, surprisingly, can have a negative effect on your joint health. If you are experiencing a lot of stress, your body will release high quantities of the hormone cortisol. This hormone works as an inflammatory agent, and so high levels of stress during the menopause will only make your joint pain worse. It is important if you tend to experience stress to take time to relax every day.

Alternative treatments such as massage or acupuncture help many women with their joint pain symptoms. They directly target the area of pain in order to ease the symptom.

Are there herbal remedies to help me?

Some women might experience ‘rheumatic’ type pains coming from the inside of a joint. This is where Devil’s Claw can help – it has a similar effect to that of steroids, although without the steroidal compounds, so without the associated side effects. The herb is gentle to the body and may take up to 4 weeks to work its way into the body.

Eileen's TOP TIP: Devil’s Claw is best taken after food. If your joint pain is troublesome, start off with a higher dose of Devil’s Claw. Take two tablets twice daily of Atrosan for 3 to 5 days, then 1 tablet twice daily.

What about conventional medicine?

Conventional medicines for joint pain include painkillers and anti-inflammatories. However, they are not usually recommended for joint pain associated with the menopause as the pain is a symptom rather than the cause itself. To treat menopausal joint pain, your doctor may consider the use of HRT.

If your pain is severe, and home and herbal remedies are ineffective, then there may be another underlying cause. In this case, or if you are worried about your condition, it is important to talk to your doctor as he will be able to prescribe a treatment to help you.

A.Vogel Talks Menopause

Join experts Eileen Durward and Alison Cullen in the beautiful A.Vogel garden as they talk about the menopause and share their tips on how to relieve hot flushes and night sweats including simple lifestyle changes and how the medicinal herb Sage can help.



This week's talking point

HRT 'increases ovarian cancer risk' Well ladies, it's in the news again. According to a recent study, HRT has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women taking it for over 5 years.

Menopause Expert Eileen Durward looks at the medical facts behind the news headlines.

Don't go through the Menopause alone!



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How I survived the menopause

What is happening to me? I know I asked this, so if you are asking it too, don’t worry, you are not alone! The menopause can be a daunting, confusing and scary time if you let it be, but as they say, knowledge is power.

I use my personal experience of going through the menopause (and surviving it) to offer support and guidance to help you have a happier, healthier menopause.

I survived the menopause and so can you!

What do you think?

Have you found what you read useful? If so, I would love if you would leave your comment below. Thanks Eileen Durward




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