Are my aches and pains due to menopause?

Are my aches and pains due to menopause?

We have all heard horror stories about the classic menopause symptoms: hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and stubborn weight gain. Some lesser-known symptoms associated with menopause can include arthritis, joint pain, and creaky joints. These can all be directly related to the decrease in estrogen that accompanies menopause.

Think of estrogen as a lubricant. It lubricates the joints, the eyes, the vaginal tissue, even the inside of the nose… (yes, this is a “thing” for some women). Since estrogen also affects bone health and inflammation, joint pain after menopause may signal the need to investigate your hormone levels to prevent bone loss, osteoporosis, and arthritis.

Thorough hormone testing can identify the root cause of menopausal symptoms and individualize treatment plans. The DUTCH test is the cutting edge hormone test we use at BeWell. It measures the key sex hormones, their metabolites, cortisol (the stress hormone), organic acids, and oxidative stress. This test gives a complete picture of your hormones, the upstream producers of those hormones, and how your body is breaking them down and detoxifying them. Testing gives your clinician a roadmap for creating an individualized program that can ease the menopausal transition and significantly relieve symptoms of menopause while assuring future bone, skin and brain health.

Menopausal women can also implement many dietary and lifestyle changes to improve hormonal symptoms. Our clinicians can work with you to create a therapeutic diet that supports hormone balance, promotes healthy adrenal and thyroid function, and reinforces whole-body wellness. Post-menopausal women may feel discouraged and overwhelmed by the thought of changing their diet or by past dieting failures to lose weight. Below is a testimonial from a BeWell client in her early 60s who pursued hormone testing to address multiple menopausal symptoms, including joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, sleep issues, and difficulty losing weight. After working with clinician Caitlin Maher CNS, she significantly reduced her joint pain and found improvements in both energy and sleep. Without dieting or starving, she also successfully lost fat mass and achieved a healthy weight in a way that has not put her bones at risk.

“I think it’s best to view the lifestyle and diet recommendations as a process. These changes take time; they don’t happen overnight. My journey began over ten years ago when I attended a workshop at a local health food store where the presenter prepared foods that he would typically eat throughout the course of a day, dessert included. My diet mentality began to shift from Equal, no-fat cookies and skim milk to whole foods and good fats, which is exactly what they teach at BeWell. I remember the presenter saying he now prefers a nice serving of protein and vegetables. At the time, I never thought that would be me. My favorite food was pasta. But now, I’m there; I rarely eat pasta. I haven’t lost my love for a good piece of bread, but I could live without pasta. I’ve found some gluten-free breads that I enjoy, but I allow myself a piece or two of a special bread with olive oil when eating out or for a special occasion. Recently, I was out to eat with my husband, and there were some old favorites on the menu that I really wanted. I decided to make better choices because I didn’t want to make excuses at my next meeting with Caitlin. I ended up with the most delicious winter citrus salad – no kidding! It was great to try something new that was more health-supportive. I also use the InBody Scale at my chiropractor’s office at least twice a month and send these scans to Caitlin. Without some form of accountability, I am more likely to backslide. By sticking to the program and incorporating the recommendations, I have lost ten pounds, and my body fat percentage has gone from 31.4% to 26.8%. At the same time, my skeletal muscle mass has stayed the same. I exercise moderately, 20 to 30 minutes daily, about five days a week. I don’t feel like I’m dieting – I eat when I’m hungry. In the past, I used to exercise a lot more because I was eating so low fat that I was always starving. Now, I have the energy I need to go about my day, and I haven’t had any major back pain since before Thanksgiving.” – Elizabeth B.

Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life. Although this transition is often rife with uncomfortable symptoms, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many options available to minimize menopausal symptoms. If you struggle with joint pain, arthritis, inflammation, or other classic menopausal symptoms, ask your clinician about the DUTCH test or alternate hormone testing. Working with a nutritionist at BeWell can help to identify your exact needs, and your clinician will collaborate with you to create a plan that will best support your hormones and overall health. This process is a journey; as Elizabeth stated above, it does not happen overnight.

Talk with your clinician about your symptoms. They can guide you to make the changes necessary to support your overall health and help you feel your best, regardless of your current age or phase of life. Joint pain and arthritis do not have to be a part of your life, even after menopause!

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