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.
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.
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.
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 Diseases, 22(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 Plasticity, 2020, 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 & Therapy, 11(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 Rheumatology, 4(1), 46–56. https://doi.org/10.5152/eurjrheum.2016.048