Many of our patients in the UK complain about their Menopause, as it coincides with the appearance of many common types of arthritic disease. Since all women, who are already more susceptible to these
disorders than men, will be affected by menopause sooner or later, it becomes important to understand how these two pathologies interact with one another. As far as these interactions go, there is very little that the types of hormonal changes that occur during and because of menopause are highly active in disease modulation.
To a certain degree, in some cases hormonal fluctuations in women during the years of menopause act as chemical triggers for the emergence and gradual development of some diseases such as breast and endometrial cancer. In other cases, however, the reduced levels of estrogen produced by the body alter the course of diseases already present. So which is the case with menopause and arthritis?
ONSET OF THE MENOPAUSE
Menopause is the transitory period which signifies an end to a woman’s menstruation and reproductive cycle. Approximately 90 percent of women go through the process of menopause sometime between the ages of 48 and 54. This period is characterized by a highly significant hormonal instability due to the alterations that occur to the ovaries and their functions. This diminished ovarian function has as a direct consequence of a decreased production of the female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone.
Once the production of these hormones becomes irregular a series of body systems are affected, some of them to a significant degree, with the entire cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems are perhaps the most susceptible. The NHS has specific help for menopause in the UK.
The exact interactions between the varying levels of estrogen and progesterone and the rest of the body are quite complex, but it has been demonstrated that the decreased hormone production induced by menopause is directly linked with an increase in the incidence of arthritic disease, especially so in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. This correlation has even been identified in women with early onset of menopause, which gives credence to the theory that a hormonal component is at play.
ARTHRITIS AND THE MENOPAUSE
An arthritic disease that is induced by menopause is one of the most frequently encountered forms of the arthritic disease. It is striking that this form of arthritis not only occurs in women of menopausal age but also in women with artificial menopause induced by hormonal disorders or surgical removal of the reproductive organs. On average this type of arthritis will develop around the age of 51; however, women as young as 42 and as old as 66 have reported it sudden appearance.
Arthritis of the menopause involves the pathological loss of hyaline cartilage and a subchondral bone reaction. It is also characterized by a rapid onset of symptoms and multiple joint involvements.
Arthritis of the menopause manifests mainly through pain, predominantly in the early morning, accompanied by distinct and uncomfortable numbness of the hands, stiffness, and swelling of the joints of the wrists, hands, elbows, knees, shoulders, and feet.
This is an aggressive disease and capable of rapidly damaging the joints if not treated in time. If you suspect that you have it or if you have any of its symptoms, it is imperative to consult a rheumatologist immediately to perform the necessary imaging and laboratory tests and analyses such as x-rays, and joint ultrasound, which will allow health care providers to make an early diagnosis and establish an early treatment with the best possible prognosis.
Thankfully, there is a multitude of modern treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and, although its cure has not yet been achieved, it is possible to stop the disease and preserve functional capacity and adequate quality of life.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR MENOPAUSAL ARTHRITIS?
If you or a loved one is suffering from this type of arthritic disease, do not fret or worry too much. There are several options available that can alleviate most symptoms and even halt the progression of the disease.
The first line of defense is medications. There are several types, and they will be used in order o side effect severity. The medications with the fewest side effects will be used first with stronger medications added to the therapy if no quantifiable improvements are felt.
Medications are able to provide the following benefits:
- Ease the pain
- Reduce inflammation or swelling
- Slowing down the disease process in arthritis or in other types of inflammatory arthritis
- Reduce uric acid levels and prevent gout attacks
- Slowing bone loss or promoting bone formation in osteoporosis
Alongside medication, there are a variety of complementary physical therapy options. Physical therapy can help patients identify the exact causes of pain based on specific daily activities and teach appropriate ways to perform movement and alleviate the pain over time. This type of therapeutic training consists of a combination of exercises and pain control techniques.
In some cases, physical therapy alone has been known to reverse the damage to the joints caused by arthritis completely, but it is always best to practice these exercises alongside traditional and non-traditional options. Find out more about Menopause support in the United Kingdom.
BEST ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ARTHRITIS AND THE MENOPAUSE?
More and more so each day, scientific studies are finding evidence that there is real, quantifiable, and therapeutic potential in many herbs and natural supplements. Some of the most effective include:
Capsaicin: Capsaicin is the chemical compound that gives hot peppers their characteristic heat, however, there is plenty of clinical evidence that shows that capsaicin has an alleviating effect on pain associated with arthritis.
Turmeric: This tasty spice so typical of Indian and Indonesian food is able to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness of the joints significantly. The best part is that you can cook up some delicious dishes with your medicine.
Ginseng Extract: This supplement has been used in eastern medicine for thousands of years and for a good reason. There is a multitude of potent chemical compounds to be found in ginseng root extracts such as peptides, alcohols, and fatty acids that can reduce the severity of arthritic symptoms.
Glucosamine – Essential Sugars READ MORE