What can help with back and joint pain in menopause?
Let’s be honest; not everything can be blamed on menopause. Men often suffer the same problems with their backs and joints only to attribute it to aging.
For women hormonal changes just add to back and joint pain in menopause as much as the wear and tear, unfortunately.
Even when you go to see a doctor for the pain you are experiencing, they treat your problem as if you were a man. The biggest issue is that nobody knows how long does menopause last and how long will we suffer from back and joint pain.
You are usually not even told the right combination of vitamins and supplements to be able to absorb calcium – the building block of bones – a crucial piece of information for a woman trying to keep her bones and joints healthy.
There is no information on what kind of collagen (a building block for bone, skin, hair, nails, and cartilage) is good for the cartilage in our joints and which ones make our skin look better.
So let’s answer these questions and see what we can do outside the pharmaceutical world of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
For everybody who is suffering from serious pain and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, or other serious illness, you should always consult with your doctors first.
For us who are lucky not to suffer so much, let’s try natural remedies before we fill that prescription the doctors often push on us.
Fixing my spine and knees
As a former athlete, I have problems with both my spine and joints, especially my knees and shoulders. My mother and daughter had knee replacement surgery as a consequence of sports injuries.
I saw that it is a serious procedure with a very long recovery period.
So I decided I would do everything I could to postpone it, at least as much as I could. I started researching what to do naturally because my options are constrained in many ways as a double cancer survivor.
What I found was that as we age and enter perimenopause and menopause, our bones and cartilage need help to stay healthy and not cause pain.
Estrogen and its right balance with the other hormones in our bodies is crucial for bone strength and how well our joints are lubricated, and how durable the cartilages are.
As estrogen starts to fluctuate and decrease in perimenopause, so does our capacity to absorb vitamin D, which is responsible for the absorption of calcium. Doctors often give women calcium in perimenopause and menopause for their bone health but do not mention that taking it together with vitamin D and vitamin K is necessary for the calcium to enter our bones.
Takeaway: Take calcium with vitamin D and vitamin K.
Of course, we have cartilage in every joint, not just the knees. ☺️
Our female reproductive hormones are also responsible for how much collagen we produce. Collagen is also a building block for many parts of our body.
Collagen is a protein responsible for healthy joints and skin elasticity, or stretchiness. It’s in your bones, muscles, and blood, comprising three quarters of your skin and a third of the protein in your body. As you age, your existing collagen breaks down, and it gets harder for your body to produce more.Webmd.com
Types of Collagen
You can find collagen in the form of supplements, powders, and pills, but not all collagen types are for joint health. There are 16 different types of collagen, but types I II and III are researched the most.
Type I and III are good for the skin, hair, and nails, but type II is best for bone and cartilage health.
A simple bone broth can replace all the over-the-counter collagen supplements. For type II, chicken bones (with the cartilage) are the best.
Our spines suffer as much as our other joints, if not more. It holds us up and helps us perform so many tasks every day. Inbetween every vertebra, there are discs that act as a cushion and help the spine to bend, twist and lift without pain.
These discs lose their fullness and elasticity as we age, causing problems with our agility and pain.
Research has shown that the lack of vitamin D is also responsible for the lower back pain many of us start experiencing in perimenopause and later in life.
Our spine and joints use muscles to stabilize them and support them. The stronger our muscles are, the easier it is for the spine and joints to do their jobs.
As we age, our muscle mass and strength are reduced. This means that all of the burden is on our bones and cartilage. We need to keep the muscles strong and do our best to stay healthy as long as we can.
None of us want to fall and break a hip because we didn’t take care of our bone health.
Osteoporosis is one of the dangers of the lack of care for our health in perimenopause and menopause. It is the loss of bone density as a consequence of the lack of estrogen and the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
It makes the bones brittle and prone to fracture. Please do a bone density test 12 months after you had your last period – when you enter menopause.
Be sure to eat healthy foods and take vitamin D together with calcium and vitamin K if there is not enough in your diet.
If it weren’t so important, nobody would go on and on with how we need to exercise. It is not just to keep our waists or have nice legs and arms. The strength of the abdominal muscles is responsible for your spine. The stronger they are, the less pain you will experience.
Think of your abdominal/core muscles as if they were a firm corset keeping you tall and straight. These muscles also protect your hips.
Keeping your thigh muscles strong is going to help the knees and hips.
There is a little trick I learned from Ask Nurse Cindy on Facebook. Every time you go to the bathroom, you do 10-20 little squats – like you want to sit onto the toilet and then stand up before you touch the seat. It adds up to a hefty number during the day.
The squats don’t have to be too low. Do them as low as you can, and it is comfortable for your knees and hips. Those are great exercises for your quadriceps and gluts.
You Hate Exercise?
We know, most of us do but, and there is always a but, it is the best way to stay self-sufficient and, in the long run, take care of yourself in your 80s and on. You have to think long-term NOW. It will be maybe too late when you break your hip or any other bone in your body to start thinking about your bone density and muscle strength.
Yes, weights are best for bone health and muscle strength, but you don’t have to go to a gym. Take two big bottles of water and exercise your arms. Buy a cheap elastic band to strengthen those quadriceps. Do some squats while washing the dishes.
Gentle Exercise for back and joint pain in menopause
Tai Chi and Yoga are scientifically proven to help with stamina, strength, and balance. They are gentle and can be done at all ages. Tai Chi is very beneficial the older you get.
Exercising in water is also very gentle and safe. If you have an opportunity, do some aqua gym exercises.
Our next blog will focus on other causes of back and joint pain in menopause. Believe it or not, it is your diet.