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A few months ago, my 41-year-old cousin sister complained of knee pain. Since she was blessed with a baby girl just an year back, she was told that it’s because her joints were still a bit weak and she need multivitamins to keep up her stamina and strength.
However, three months after she first complained, her periods stopped and we noticed that her right leg became bow-shaped and the intensity of her pain increased.
We then took her to the emergency and found out that she had hit menopause. Yes, that’s correct.
She reached what most women call the ‘dreaded stage of their lives.’ However, thankfully, this happened after the birth of her second baby. But why did menopause lead to knee pains?
Well, we at Indusparent spoke to Dr Rashmi Rajat Chopra, specialist of hand and wrist surgeon, Fortis Escorts Hospital and Fortis Memorial Hospital, New Delhi, to get the answers.
“Typically women attain menopause between 45-55 years of age and it causes a reduction in the levels of oestrogen hormone causing adverse effects on bone and joints,” explains Dr Rashmi Rajat Chopra, specialist of hand and wrist surgeon, Fortis Escorts Hospital and Fortis Memorial Hospital, New Delhi.
However, most Indian women have started hitting menopause quite early. In fact, a recent survey by The Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) stated that “nearly 4 percent of Indian women experience signs of menopause between 29 and 34 years of age.”
And, one of the major reasons for menopause is lack of the hormone oestrogen in a woman’s body.
Dr Chopra explains that the hormone oestrogen is important to maintain the health of bone and joints as well as brain, heart and skin. Its receptors are found on human joint cartilage and the anti-inflammatory effects of oestrogen are protective for the joint and cartilage. In fact, it also helps in bone building, therefore, weakness in women’s joints is one of the results of menopause.
She explains, “Joint pain is one of the more common menopause symptoms and it can be debilitating as it reduces mobility and flexibility. Thinning of bones, also called ‘Osteporosis’ is a common cause of weakness of bones leading to fractures especially in menopausal women,” she explained.
Dr Chopra explains that while joint pain affects many people as they get older and is also common among menopausal women, aches, stiffness and swelling around the joint and sometimes warmth are typical symptoms of menopausal joint pain.
“These may be worse in the morning, improving as the day continues. Larger joints such as hips and knees experience higher impacts and are more prone to arthritis in menopausal women. Back, hand and finger joints are also commonly affected,” she says.
Dr Chopra adds that while high impact exercise such as jogging can exacerbate the problem, this is often eased with rest.
“Another thing to remember is that weight gain is a common problem faced after menopause. Joint pains cause limitation of mobility thus causing weight gain, which further puts pressure on the affected joints,” she points adding that there is enough literature to suggest that post menopause, women are prone to joint pains.
“Scientific literature is available to suggest that post-menopausal women are prone to arthritis. It can also run in the family. This may be due to disturbance of the metabolism of estrogen due to presence of abnormal genes which are genetically inherited,” Dr Chopra explains.
She adds that another reason for menopausal arthritis could be intake of medicines.
“Women who are taking estrogen blocking medications such as breast cancer therapy, have increased risk of developing joint pains and swelling. Women who have undergone operation to remove the ovaries are also at higher risk of developing menopausal arthritis. Menopause is also linked to late onset or worsening of Rheumatoid Arthritis,” explains Dr Chopra.
She, however, clarifies that women who are using estrogen containing oral contraceptives are at reduced risk of developing arthritis as suggested by research. This has established the protective effect of estrogen on bone and joints
Continue reading to see the treatment and prevention of menopausal arthritis.
When this doting military wife is not busy planning life's next voyage, she is busy being a voracious reader. At the moment, she is leveraging her 7 years of experience as a senior print and digital content editor, and currently working as the Consultant Content Producer.
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