Q: What are common causes of joint pain in women over 40?
Marla Ahlgrimm: As the body’s hormone production naturally decreases, many women experience aches and pains in their joints, muscles and connective tissues. Joint pain in menopausal women may be caused by diminished estrogen levels. Estrogen is important for the body’s creation of synovial fluid, the liquid that lubricates the joints.
Q: Which is better for joint pain, synthetic or bioidentical hormones?
Marla Ahlgrimm: While synthetic estrogens and progestin have been prescribed by doctors for decades, they may actually exacerbate the symptoms of unexplained joint pain. Bioidentical hormones—those a woman naturally produces—are a much better option. Minor or infrequent joint pain may be managed with exercise, diet changes and the occasional use of anti-inflammatory medication.
Q: How can a woman prevent joint pain?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Joint pain is not an inevitable part of the aging process, especially during menopause. Women who begin to feel stiff and achy after 40 should exercise regularly to maintain flexibility. A healthy diet and adequate rest are also essential to ward off joint pain. The body cannot repair itself without deep, REM sleep and proper nutrients.
Q: Does weight affect the joints?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, even a few pounds can negatively affect the ankles, knees and hips. For each pound of excessive weight, the knees experience 10 pounds of force.
Q: Where do women most often feel joint pain?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Women who feel uneasy due to fluctuating hormone levels feel it all over. However, the hands are what most women say begins to become painful first.
Q: Aside from hormones, are there any supplements that may be useful to maintain joint health?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A high-quality glucosamine and chondroitin supplement is often very helpful but may take three to six months for full effect. Capsaicin, which is available in a topical gel, may also reduce localized joint pain.