There are many well-known side effects bought on by the menopause – from hot flushes and mood swings, to sleep disturbance and decreased libido – but did you know that 40% of all menopausal women are affected by joint pain?
Dr. Rod Hughes, a consultant rheumatologist, explains why this is. “Menopausal joint pain can start several years before other menopausal symptoms. This is due to oestrogen levels starting to decline several years before the menopause, causing a reduction in collagen, loss of cartilage and an increase in inflammation leading to joint pain and stiffness.” Makes sense!
But how can we best support ourselves, and our joints, during the menopause? Here are our top four simple and effective lifestyle tips to help keep you at your best:
Exercise is an excellent way to strengthen and maintain flexibility in the joints. Low impact exercises, like swimming, walking and yoga, are great ways to keep moving and stay healthy. Avoid high impact exercise that can put added strain on the joints, like running or HIIT workouts. Exercise is not only good for the joints, it benefits the whole body, and can help with weight control, mood and sleep. Not sure what counts as low impact exercise? Usually both feet, or at least one foot, stay in contact with the ground most of the time, or the whole body is supported, like when swimming.
Eat and drink well
Ensure you’re drinking enough water and are eating a varied, nutrition-rich diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains. Try to cut down on alcohol and caffeine, as these can trigger hot flushes, as well as foods with added sugar, high salt content and a lot of heat and spice.
Try a supplement
Supplements help support our bodies’ natural functions and there is evidence to show that the galactolipid, GOPO®, improves joint pain and stiffness in women of menopausal age. Studies have also demonstrated that GOPO® has anti-inflammatory properties which protect cartilage, potentially even helping cartilage and joint tissues to rebuild.
Research has shown that stress, and the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, can cause inflammation in the body, including the joints. Take time to manage stress by looking at and, where possible, addressing the causes of stress, as well as practicing self-care – talk with your loved ones, pamper yourself by taking a bath, getting a massage, taking time out to read and relax. Other ways to manage stress include exercise, meditation and breath techniques.
It’s important to ensure we take care of ourselves and our joints, so that we can continue living happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. But don’t just take our word for it, menopause expert Dr Kathy Abernethy agrees. “Whilst more women are now seeking help for the menopause, joint health is often ignored resulting in a significant impact on quality of life. It is important that women consider treating all symptoms to maintain their overall wellbeing. Simple lifestyle changes such as low impact exercise, changes to diet and taking supplements may help, particularly in the early stages”
GOPO is derived from the seeds and husks of rosehip, GOPO Joint Health is available from Boots, supermarkets and independent chemists nationwide £19.00 for 120 capsules and £27.00 for 200 capsules www.gopo.co.uk