Menopausal arthritis: How yoga, swimming and regular exercise can help relieve the pain
Menopausal arthritis: Women who are approaching menopause have more chances of developing osteoarthritis, which could weaken bones and cause fractures.
Arthritis is the inflammation in the joints that may cause pain, stiffness, swelling and tenderness. While both men and women are at risk of this debilitating joint disease, women who are approaching menopause have more chances of developing osteoarthritis. During menopause, a natural biological process in women, that marks the end of their menstrual cycles, the level of estrogen, an important reproductive hormone, starts to decrease which may cause certain health troubles. This may include thinning and weakening of bones. Not all women however suffer from the same symptoms during perimenopause and some of them may experience very mild ones. (Also read: Menstrual hygiene tips every woman must follow)
"Menopause causes reduction in the levels of estrogen hormone causing adverse effects on bone and joints. 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 'osteoporosis' is a common cause of weakness of bones leading to fractures especially in menopausal women," says Dr Divya A, Executive Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Panchkula. The expert also gives tips to manage arthritis in menopausal women.
Tips to manage menopausal arthritis in women
* Estrogen replacement therapy
Replenishing the levels of estrogen hormone forms the basis of treatment as well as prevention. Starting estrogen replacement therapy under the guidance of your doctor will help reduce the symptoms of joint pain and swelling.
* Weight loss and healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and having a balanced diet is helpful to keep symptoms under control. Reducing the pressure and repetitive strain on the joints is important. One should avoid jogging on hard surfaces to protect joints. At the same time, keeping them flexible will reduce joint pain.
* Yoga and swimming
Both Yoga and swimming are beneficial for strengthening your muscles and joints without exerting too much pressure or load on the joints. Yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity that also has important psychological benefits. Besides, it also increases muscle strength, improves flexibility, enhances respiratory endurance, and promote balance. Yoga is also associated with increased energy and fewer bodily aches and pains. Yoga help in improving anxiety, depression, and psychological stress.
* Eat fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants. They can help reduce joint inflammation. Balanced diet will also help in weight control thereby reducing the strain on the joints. Inclusion of nuts, wholegrains and dried fruits in your diet will help supply calcium and magnesium which are essential for strong and healthy bones. Taking oral supplements can also help. Vitamin B3, Omega fatty acid and fish oil supplements can also be recommended.
* Relaxation and alternative treatments
Relaxation, meditation and alternative treatments such as massage or acupuncture help many women with their joint pain symptoms. They directly target the area of pain in order to ease the symptoms.
Other medical therapies available include oral pain control medications and intra-articular injections.
Physiotherapy for arthritis
Dr Divya A also recommends techniques and exercises that help increase muscle strength and improve joint flexibility.
- Pain-relief treatments such as heat or ice packs, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines, massage, manipulation, acupuncture or taping
- Providing walking aids or splints to help you stay mobile and independent
- Strengthening exercises
- ECT (energy conservative techniques)
- Some physiotherapists have access to a hydrotherapy pool where you can perform exercises in warm water. Many people find it easier to move in water – the warmth is soothing and the water supports your weight so that you can move your joints and muscles without straining them.
- Postural education
- Swimming can also be a good choice of exercise if you have arthritis because it stimulates blood circulation and can reduce muscle stiffness and ease pain, can help make your joints more flexible and the buoyancy of water reduces impact on your joints.