Coping with menopause related aches and pains

Aching joints and muscle problems are common before, during and after the menopause. The joint pain isn’t caused by injury or exhaustion but may be related to fluctuating hormone levels. Collagen is a protein that binds every tissue in the body and when it begins to weaken at the menopause, muscles lose their bulk, strength and coordination and joints become stiff. Muscles become more prone to stiffness after exercise and joints may swell so movement is restricted. If you experience bloating and fluid retention you may also get pins and needles or numbness in your hands.


It isn’t wise to ignore aches and pains as early treatment can often bring about a cure and prevent further development of arthritis. Getting plenty of rest, eating nutritious foods, preferably organic food, fruits and vegetables-and avoiding known toxins and stimulants, are healthy strategies for fighting joint pains. The following recommendations should also help:


  • Try a heating pad or soaking in a warm bath for 30 minutes to increase the blood flow to the muscles. A warm footbath with a few drops of the essential oil of peppermint or rosemary right before bed may help. Or perhaps a bath to which valerian has been added. Ginger baths, soaks, and compresses may bring soothing, warm relief to sore and aching joints.  
  • Try to exercise every day. If you are in a lot of pain avoid high impact exercises and do yoga, stretching and walking instead. 
  • Avoid over the counter pain killers unless absolutely necessary. Capsaicin creams may prove useful if they are applied several times a day. Capsaicin, a component of chilli peppers, helps to block the pain. Other herbal remedies that may be helpful include: alfalfa, feverfew, and white willow. Unlike aspirin and cortisone, the herbs don’t produce side effects when used carefully. Also unlike drugs, herbs provide bone-building minerals, immune-strengthening micronutrients, and endocrine-nourishing glycosides. Aspirin is actually based on an extract from willow, originally used for pain relief by the American Indians.  Salicylates (which are the active ingredients in aspirin) are found in the bark, buds and leaves of willows, birches, true wintergreen, poplars, and black haw and have been used for centuries to help ease inflammatory pain. Sterols found in the roots of many plants such as wild yam, sarsaparilla, ginseng, black cohosh and devil’s club have also been found to help ease sore joints.
  • Essential fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. Regular use of Omega 3 fish oil can help relieve pain and regular use helps prevent aching joints (see the Resources Page for a high strength Omega 3 fish oil).
  • In addition to herbal remedies, visualisation, swimming in warm water and acupuncture may help greatly for aching joints. 
  • Finally, pay attention to your posture – including how you sit, stand or carry items and try to reduce the strain on your back and neck. When standing keep your head held high, your pelvis forward and your abdomen and buttocks tucked in. When sitting keep your spine against the back of the chair and your knees a little higher than your hips and when carrying items remember that heavy bags put pressure on your back so try to alter the load.

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