Understanding the Link between Perimenopause & Menopause & Pain

Understanding the Link between Perimenopause, Menopause, and Musculoskeletal Pain

Reaching a certain age has heightened my awareness, and I truly understand it now! Through my clinical experience, I’ve consistently observed that women often encounter pain during a particular phase of their lives. The challenge lies in the variability of these experiences, making identification and diagnosis more complex. However, a common thread emerges—sudden occurrences of frozen shoulder, knee pain, and general joint discomfort are recurrent themes.

Perimenopause and menopause are natural stages in a woman’s life that signify the end of reproductive capabilities. While these transitions bring hormonal changes that impact various aspects of health, one significant issue is musculoskeletal pain. This blog post aims to shed light on the relationship between perimenopause, menopause, and musculoskeletal pain by exploring recent peer-reviewed papers.

1. Hormonal Changes and Musculoskeletal Pain:

During perimenopause and menopause, hormonal fluctuations occur as estrogen levels decline. These changes have been associated with an increased risk of musculoskeletal pain. A study by Roman-Blas et al. (2009) found that decreased estrogen levels were linked to an increased prevalence of joint pain and osteoarthritis in menopausal women.

2. Osteoporosis and Bone Health:

Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health, and its decline during menopause can lead to osteoporosis—a condition characterised by loss of bone density and increased fracture risk (Better Health Channel, n.d.). According to a review article by Sozen et al. (2017), osteoporotic fractures often manifest as musculoskeletal pain, particularly in the spine, hips, wrists, and shoulders.

3. Fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive issues. Several studies have suggested a potential link between menopause and fibromyalgia symptoms (Dias et al., 2019).

4. Psychological Factors:

The hormonal imbalances during perimenopause and menopause can also contribute to psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression. These psychological factors have been associated with an increased perception of pain intensity and decreased tolerance for musculoskeletal pain. A study by Lu et al. (2020) reported that women experiencing menopausal symptoms were more likely to report severe musculoskeletal pain.

Conclusion:

Perimenopause and menopause are significant life stages for women, accompanied by hormonal changes that can impact their musculoskeletal health. Understanding the link between these transitions and musculoskeletal pain is crucial for healthcare professionals in providing appropriate care and support. As evidenced by recent peer-reviewed papers, the decline in estrogen levels, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and psychological factors, all contribute to the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain during perimenopause and menopause.

Remember, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing persistent or severe musculoskeletal pain during these stages of life. They can provide appropriate guidance and treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

References:

Dias, R. C. A., Kulak Junior, J., Ferreira da Costa, E. H., & Nisihara, R. M. (2019). Fibromyalgia, sleep disturbance and menopause: Is there a relationship? A literature review. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases22(11), 1961–1971. https://doi.org/10.1111/1756-185x.13713

Lu, C., Liu, P., Zhou, Y., Meng, F., Qiao, T., Yang, X., Li, X., Xue, Q., Xu, H., Liu, Y., Han, Y., & Zhang, Y. (2020). Musculoskeletal Pain during the Menopausal Transition: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Neural Plasticity2020, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8842110

Roman-Blas, J. A., Castañeda, S., Largo, R., & Herrero-Beaumont, G. (2009). Osteoarthritis associated with estrogen deficiency. Arthritis Research & Therapy11(5), 241. https://doi.org/10.1186/ar2791

Sozen, T., Ozisik, L., & Calik Basaran, N. (2017). An overview and management of osteoporosis. European Journal of Rheumatology4(1), 46–56. https://doi.org/10.5152/eurjrheum.2016.048

SMR | Self-care with self myofascial release | Emma Simpson

Self-myofascial Release (SMR): What it is and Why You Need it in Your Life

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a massage every single day? Imagine how great it would feel to get rid of all your tight knots and sore muscles on a regular basis.

Practically heaven right?

For most of us, it’s fairly unlikely that we could fit this into our busy lives. However, there is a way to get that “ohh, I just got a massage feeling” every single day! And the best part is it doesn’t take a ton of time, it’s inexpensive, and it’s really quite simple.

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Structural Integration | Rolfing | Emma Simpson Sydney

Structural Integration, Rolfing, Myofascial Release… oh my!

Structural Integration: Is it for you?

I’ve been bodyworking for over 20 years now!

 

From the simple relaxation techniques of Swedish massage to more remedial and rehabilitative sports-based modalities and into the specialised principles of myofascial release work, I’ve used a wide range of therapeutic touch on many hundreds of bodies.

 

My favourite modality, by far, is Structural Integration (SI). In fact, SI is so effective that I focus my entire practice on it.

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Function of fascia | Emma Simpson | Structural Integration

What the Fascia?!

In terms of physical anatomy, we’re all likely very familiar with the skeletal system, circulatory system, immune system, digestive system as well as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

But, what if I told you that an entire body system (that affects virtually every other system) – has been left off that list?!

THE FASCIAL SYSTEM.

The term fascia is from the Latin word meaning “band” or “bandage”, and it is the biological fabric or infrastructure that holds us together.

Essentially, it is our complex network of connective tissue and can be likened to a spider web of fibrous, glue-like proteins that binds all of the other systems together in their proper places.


 

“Each organ, each muscle, each artery, each vein, each nerve — there is not one single structure in the whole body that is not connected with fascia or not enveloped by fascia.”
– Andreas Haas, Manus Fascia Center, Austria

 

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Physical Touch Therapy | Emma Simpson | Structural Integration

Why We All Need More Physical Touch Therapy

“Don’t be so touchy-feely”… heard from not too many people ever!

That’s because we, as humans, all crave touch – to touch more often and to be touched more often. I don’t mean this in a sexual manner either – it’s meant as being an essential element in your “love language”.

And we all need to be loved in different ways. Don’t we?

 

“To touch is to give life” ~ Michelangelo

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Emma Simpson | Pain - Body Signals

The Language of Pain: What Signals Your Body Is Trying to Give You

Did you know your body communicates with you around the clock?

Many of us are often too busy and stressed with everyday responsibilities, like work and childcare, or distracted with television and technology, to recognise and receive the messages our bodies are sending us.

But, you can gain valuable insight into your current state of health when you tune into what your body has to say.

The Language of Chronic Pain… are you listening to your body’s signals?

Besides our love language fueled by the hormone Oxytocin, another one of the most common languages our body uses to communicate with us — is PAIN.

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Scar Tissue Therapy | Emma Simpson, Structural Integrator & Remedial Massage

War Wounds: How Scar Tissue Therapy can help you fight them

We’ve all got one or two gnarly looking scars on our body. An old injury from falling off our bike as a kid, or maybe even a bigger one from a recent surgery.

These scars tell a lot of stories and it’s not just the actual story of how they happened that I’m referring to.

For a bodyworker like myself, your scars tell me HOW to treat your body. They tell me WHY you may be experiencing pain or discomfort and WHERE.

Our bodies are so complex that the old bike scar from childhood that you may have completely forgotten about could still be affecting you today.

But before I go down that rabbit hole, let me first give you a brief explanation of scar tissue.

What is scar tissue really?

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Emma treating a client in a seated position during a structural integration session

How to Thaw Out Your Frozen Shoulder

What if one day you woke up and you weren’t able to lift your arm above your head? No matter how hard you tried, it just won’t move.

And to make matters worse, your shoulder is swollen and you’re in a lot of pain.

These are just a few of many symptoms of a condition commonly known as Frozen Shoulder. As the medical folk like to call it — Adhesive Capsulitis. (See, that’s why most people prefer to just say ‘frozen shoulder’!)

Frozen Shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder joint experiences an extremely limited range of motion. In some severe cases, an individual with the condition will have difficulty performing basic daily tasks like getting dressed or brushing their teeth.

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Wiggly Pelvis & SI Joint Pain | Emma Simpson

SI Joint Pain and a Wiggly Pelvis: Could This Be The Cause of Your Low Back Pain Too?

I recently had a new client in my clinic who was experiencing pain in her lower back. “Lisa” had just leaned down to pick up her toddler son, turned to grab something, and… BOOM. The searing pain stopped her in her tracks.

She immediately gave me a call so we could start treating the problem and she could get back to her busy life.

After a few evaluations, I was able to determine the cause of the problem: SI Joint Dysfunction caused by Pelvic Girdle Instability.

So, my pelvis is wiggly, and could be the cause of my SI joint pain?!

In simple terms, Lisa’s pelvis moves all over the place when she walks and therefore is unable to support her lower back and torso. And Lisa is not alone in this.

An unstable Pelvic Girdle (just think wiggly pelvis) is extremely common, especially among women who have given birth OR are currently pregnant — AND HERE’S WHY…

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