Joint Pain in Women: How to Deal with Discomfort

How to Deal with the Discomfort Associated with Joint Pain

Joint pain and stiffness can occur regardless of age and it can target almost any joint in the body. Joint problems are often associated with past injuries, overuse, arthritis, hormonal imbalances and weight. Achiness, soreness, throbbing and “grating” sensations are common discomforts noted and many women also experience a decrease in flexibility and range of motion in the affected area. The pain can be constant or intermittent.

When dealing with chronic joint pain, it is important to rule out common ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome, gout, or muscle injury early on.

Osteoarthritis is a common diagnosis from women in perimenopause or menopause. Two common treatment plans are often used: increasing the strength of pain medication in tandem with the increase in pain, or waiting until the pain is bad enough to necessitate surgery. To most, neither seems like a suitable option.

Women often begin to notice joint issue once their reproductive hormone levels begin to change due to age. However, joint pain is not necessarily a sign of aging. Unless there is serious damage or deterioration of the ligaments, tendons or cartilage, relief can often be found in controlling inflammation. Addressing the issue sooner rather than later is essential.

Inflammation usually occurs when there is a threat of injury or infection to the body.

Normally it is not an issue, but if this response is sustained fort too long, it can cause damage to normal, healthy cells in the joints. The chronic inflammation slowly wears down tissue in and around the joint and prevents the body’s ability to heal the affected area.

Diets high in fried foods, sugars, and carbohydrates elevate insulin levels and exacerbate inflammation.

Moreover, some women may have undiagnosed allergies or food sensitivities that can cause an increase in inflammation upon consuming those foods.

The following factors contribute to chronic inflammation and joint pain:

  1. Hormonal imbalances: Fluctuating estrogen levels can have a major impact on joints. Estrogen has anti-inflammatory properties, and decreased levels of this hormone during perimenopause and menopause can increase the joint pain caused by chronic inflammation.
  2. Adrenal stress: When we are stressed, the body releases an inflammatory agent called cortisol. Under normal amounts of stress, the cortisol release is not a big deal, but sustained stress can cause inflammation to spread or become chronic.
  3. Earlier injuries: Previous injuries can be the starting point of future chronic inflammation and pain. Pain and stiffness within the joint can occur due to a prior injury, especially if that injury didn’t heal properly.
  4. Weight: The risk of osteoarthritis is higher in overweight women because of the extra stress their weight puts on their knee joints. Excess body fat can lead to additional inflammation throughout the body’s joints.

    Naturally relieving the chronic pain caused by inflammation is possible and a combination of the following approaches is recommended:

    1. Eat antioxidant-rich foods or take supplements. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E are thought to protect against the damaging effects of ‘free radicals’ created by the body’s oxidative effects and other factors such as diet.
    2. Add alkalotic foods like spinach, broccoli and avocado to help balance the acidity of fried and sugary foods. These acid-forming foods correspond closely with foods that cause inflammation.
    3. Perform gentle exercises to keep the joints flexible and lubricated. Although moving the joint may hurt, it is important to work through the pain. Try yoga or walking for a slow, low impact work out.

    Any lifestyle changes that promote stress relief, the reduction of inflammation, and regulation of cortisol levels are encouraged.

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