Weather Can Cause Joint Pain
Can your aching joints really predict the weather? Some scientists say yes, but the precise mechanism of this has not be established. Your joints have nerves inside them called baro-receptors. These nerves respond to atmospheric pressure changes that often bring on bad weather. When the atmospheric pressure drops, some arthritis sufferers can feel it in their hands, shoulders, knees, hips, and elbows. Cooler weather can bring on joint pain too.
Can Menopause Cause Joint Pain
While aches and pains and joint stiffness are all inevitable as we age, as women approach menopause, typically between the age of 45 and 55, many are often surprised to discover that joint pain is one of the most common symptoms, alongside hot flushes, night sweats, period changes and mood swings.
The average age for menopause is between 45 and 55, so it is little wonder why many women put their aches and pains down to aging.
Joints which are involved in high impact movements such as the hips and knees tend to be most affected. The elbows, neck, shoulders, hands and fingers can also be affected by joint pain.
There are a number of causes of joint pain during menopause including:
- Hormonal changes
- Poor posture
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
Below, I take a closer look at each of these causes and recommend ways to help prevent and treat joint pain during menopause.
Is Menopause Joint Pain The Same As Arthritis
There are two main arthritic conditions: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and the onset of both of these conditions can coincide with menopause.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition also known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. It typically starts with one or two joints, and the large weight-bearing ones such as the hips and knees are usually the first to become painful as the proactive cartilage wears away and is not replaced as fast as it is worn away.
Wear and tear is a natural part of ageing so most people will experience this to some degree. However, cartilage degeneration can be exacerbated or caused by other factors such as our genes, multiple pregnancies, poor diet, obesity, injury and overuse. For example, this tends to be the case for athletes such as runners who are over-using weight-bearing joints, or for those whose jobs involve repetitive bending, heavy lifting and standing for long periods of time.
Osteoarthritis can be confused with menopause joint pain, due to it commonly occurring as people reach midlife, the same time that women are often starting to go through menopause. While joints can become less lubricated and flexible during menopause, often, as your hormones begin to balance out after menopause, your joint pain can begin to lessen. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint, which can worsen overtime.
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Sprains Strains And Injuries
Sprains and strains happen when tissues in the knee become stretched by unusual or increased activity, or an awkward twist or trip.
PRICE, described above, should lead to a reduction in pain and improved movement within days, and a gradual improvement over the weeks to follow.
A sprain often resolves itself, but some problems can require more treatment. For example, an injury to the pad of tissue in the knee joint known as the meniscus may require surgery.
How To Avoid Stiffness In The Joints
The best way to ease stiffness in the joints will depend upon the cause.
If your stiffness bothers you for more than half an hour after you awaken, or if your symptoms are getting worse, then you need to seek medical attention.
Either extreme of temperature can be helpful for muscle and joint pain relief.
Apply a cold compress or bag of ice to the affected joint for 20 minutes many times throughout the day.
This will help reduce the inflammation or swelling and restore your movement.
It also will dull your pain receptors.
Heat is also beneficial for muscle and joint pain relief.
Try a heating pad or a hot water bottle to relax your muscles and increase your circulation.
Steroids are another method for treating joint stiffness and pain.
Corticosteroids can decrease inflammation.
Steroids may not be useful for people with advanced arthritis.
In certain cases, relief may only be temporary, and further injections might not be effective.
Exercise and physical therapy can increase joint mobility and decrease stiffness.
If you dont know how to begin an exercise regimen;or are having movement problems, then you should discuss the matter with your doctor or a qualified physical therapist.
Exercise can be very beneficial, but you might aggravate some conditions if you dont take the proper precautions.
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Exercises And Stretches That May Help
In some cases, people with a stiff knee should avoid exercising. Some knee injuries need time to heal and would benefit from rest instead of exercise.
However, a stiff knee that occurs due to a form of arthritis may benefit from exercise. The Arthritis Foundation state that different exercises and stretches could help in different ways:
- Strengthening exercises: Increasing muscle strength around the knee reduces the stress on the joint. Examples of these exercises include leg lifts and hamstring curls.
- Range-of-motion exercises: Stretches and exercises that increase the knees range of motion keep the joint moving to reduce stiffness. Examples of these exercises include heel slides and stretching with a yoga strap.
- Aerobic exercises: Cardio exercises can boost a persons energy levels and reduce any excess weight that may put extra pressure on the knee. Examples of these exercises include cycling and swimming.
- Balance exercises: These exercises strengthen the muscles around the knee while also reducing the risk of falling, which could damage the joint further. Examples of these exercises include single leg standing and standing on a foam pad.
A person with a form of arthritis may want to discuss any new exercise plans or programs with their doctor before starting.
The following tips can also help prevent or alleviate knee stiffness and pain:
Strengthen Your Muscles & Joints
While exercising is probably the last thing you want to do when your joints feel achy and sore, staying active is very important as it helps to increase the strength and flexibility of your joints, as well as in the muscles that surround the joints. But this doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym!
Good options include:
- Non weight-bearing exercises
- Low-impact weight-bearing exercises
- Resistant, non-impact exercises .
Weight-bearing exercises are thought to help protect our bone mineral density as we age and can also help build muscle, which takes the pressure off your joints.
Try to focus on strengthening the muscles around the hip and knee joints as these are the joints that need to support your entire body weight.
It is also important to always warm-up before any exercise. Our Muscles and Joints advisor Earle Logan has a simple warm-up routine for any type of exercise which you can try.
Also, be aware, high impact exercises such as jogging on hard roads can exacerbate joint pain, although this is often eased with rest or with the use of compression stockings. It’s best to limit exercises which involve lots of pounding on your joints such as running and jumping.
In contrast, low-impact non-weight bearing exercise can be gentler on the joints but still help to build strength and increase the range of movements. Therefore, incorporating flexibility and non-impact, stretch work into your exercise plans is also a good option.
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Physical Therapy For Knee Injuries
The expert team at Armor Physical Therapy has years of combined experience in identifying and treating the underlying cause of knee stiffness and other symptoms. When you come to us, well perform a thorough assessment to identify the source of your knee stiffness. We can then work closely with you to develop a customized treatment plan designed to improve flexibility and range of motion in the knee, while promoting long-term health and injury prevention.;
Want to learn more about how we can help? Contact us today to schedule your initial appointment.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Since dehydration can have such a negative impact on your joints, one of the first things you should do if you experience joint pain is to make sure you are drinking enough water. You should be looking to drink around 1.5-2 litres of plain water every day, over and above other drinks, such as coffee and tea.
If your joints are sore or creaky first thing then ease off as the day goes on, it may mean that you are really dehydrated during the night, so make sure that you drink a small glass of plain water about an hour before bed â this is really important if you are getting night sweats as these will dehydrate you further.
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Articles On Knee Pain
You can do many things to help knee pain, whether it’s due to a recent injury or arthritis you’ve had for years.
Follow these 11 dos and donâts to help your knees feel their best.
Donât rest too much. Too much rest can weaken your muscles, which can worsen joint pain. Find an exercise program that is safe for your knees and stick with it. If you’re not sure which motions are safe or how much you can do, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist.
Do exercise. Cardio exercises strengthen the muscles that support your knee and increase flexibility. Weight training and stretching do, too. For cardio, some good choices include walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary cycling, and elliptical machines. Tai chi may also help ease stiffness and improve balance.
Donât risk a fall. A painful or unstable knee can make a fall more likely, which can cause more knee damage. Curb your risk of falling by making sure your home is well lit, using handrails on staircases, and using a sturdy ladder or foot stool if you need to reach something from a high shelf.
Do use “RICE.” Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.
When Should I Call My Doctor About Joint Problems
Many people experience joint pain, and many don’t need to visit the doctor to ease their symptoms. But sometimes joint pain requires expert care. Go to the doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:
- Your joint has become unusable
- You experience sudden joint swelling
- You’ve been injured
- Your joint pain is extreme
Icing Or Heating Joints Can Provide Pain Relief And Reduce Swelling But Knowing Whether To Go Cold Or Hot And Knowing How To Use Each Form Of Thermal Therapy Can Be Tricky
Sometimes old-fashioned home remedies are just what the doctor ordered. Take using ice or heat for joint pain, for example. When your knee or your shoulder feels stiff, sore, or has a burning sensation, cooling down or warming up the affected area can help provide relief.
Its more of symptomatic relief, says Nilanjana Bose, MD, a board-certified rheumatologist with the Rheumatology Center of Houston. The pain may remain but because gives symptomatic relief, over time that will help, in conjunction with other medicines, heal the area.
But knowing when to use ice and when to use heat for pain relief can be confusing, especially if youre dealing with an ache or issue that youve never dealt with before. Although you should see a health care provider if youre experiencing consistent pain, its helpful to know what treatments can help provide immediate relief, especially if you arent able to see your doctor right away.
So, the question remains: when should you use ice versus heat to ease joint pain? Well, it mostly depends on the cause and type of joint pain youre experiencing, though personal preferences matter, too. After all, nobody knows your own body like you do.
Below, we provide information on when to use heat or ice for joint pain relief, as well as some tips to make your treatment more effective.
Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two common types of arthritis that can lead to knee tightness. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in the knee to erode, leading to malalignment. Rheumatoid arthritis causes damage to the lining of the joints, which leads to inflammation. Both types of arthritis can lead to limited function and range of motion, deformity, and tightness.
Exercises that strengthen the surrounding muscle groups may help your range of motion and knee stability.
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Increased Sensitivity To Pain
Sleeping poorly is notorious during menopause and research has proved that sleep deprivation increases our sensitivity to pain: a study from the University of California found that sleep deprivation can change the circuitry in the brain in ways that amplify pain.3
Low magnesium can also impact your pain perception,4 as well as causing sleeping problems. Poor levels of this essential nutrient are very common during menopause due to stress and digestive weakness.
Magnesium is also needed to keep your muscles relaxed, so low levels can cause them to tense up and become tight and stiff, which can impact the muscles that the control movement of the joints.
Making A Doctors Appointment
Some joint pain is aggravating and distracting, but doesn’t need emergency care. While you may not need to see a doctor immediately, here are signs that you should make an appointment to see your physician:
- The skin around your joint is red or warm
- Your pain, swelling, or stiffness lasts for three straight days or several times in a month
- Your joints are tender to the touch and difficult to move
- Fever, chills
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Effects of Aging.
- Arthritis Foundation: Ankylosing spondylitis,Arthritis weather index,Gout,Infectious arthritis,Psoriatic arthritis, “Rheumatoid arthritis treatment.”
- Arthritis.org: What Is Osteoarthritis?
- Harvard Medical School: What makes my joints stiff in the morning?
- National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association: What Is Fibromyalgia?
- NIH: Bursitis,Tendinitis.
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Ask About Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
This type of high-frequency electrical stimulation through the skin can help reduce knee osteoarthritis pain, Behrns says. It works by overriding the pain signals in your body with an electric current, according to the Arthritis Foundation. You can buy a TENS unit for your own use or go to a physiotherapist to have it administered in a healthcare facility. Keep in mind, as with all natural remedies for knee pain, not everyone will see improvements in their symptoms.
Case Study: How Drinking More Water Can Make A Big Difference
Who doesn’t love a success story? I was so pleased with this one, I had to share it…
Since dehydration can have such a big impact on your joints, one of the first things I often recommend to menopausal woman who are feeling achy and sore is to drink more water. This is exactly what happened when Margaret asked my advice on joint pain during menopause.
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The Pros And Cons Of Cortisone Shots
If you’re experiencing pain that makes it difficult for you to start physical therapy to address your knee problem, your doctor might recommend that you get an injection of cortisone to lessen the pain.
The shot injects a corticosteroid drug and a local anesthetic into the joint to temporarily relieve pain and swelling. But it isn’t a long-term fix. “Often people think that injections, especially cortisone injections, will fix a knee problem. What they do is provide a window of pain relief so you can make progress with rehabilitation,” says Dr. Rebecca Breslow, an instructor in orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. “But when cortisone injections are overused, there is some evidence that they can actually accelerate osteoarthritis.”
In short, while cortisone shots put you on the path to healing, they should be used judiciously and aren’t a permanent solution to the underlying problem that’s causing your knee pain.
Surgical Treatments For Ra Knee Pain
If your RA symptoms do not respond to lifestyle changes or medicines and your quality of life has been impacted by your rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor might recommend surgery. The type of surgery used depends on how severely your joints are damaged. Surgeries include:2
- Synovectomy During this procedure, the surgeon removes the synovium, the thin membrane that lines the joints
- Osteotomy During this procedure, either the tibia or femur is cut and reshaped to reduce pressure on the knee joint
- Total or partial knee replacement During this procedure, a surgeon removes your damaged cartilage and bone, then positions new metal or plastic parts
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What Is The Pain Behind The Knee
As the name indicates, the pain behind the knee is an ache behind your kneecap or in the joint. Pain can start after sudden, uncomfortable movement, overuse of the muscular tissue, injuries such as fractures or twists, and medical conditions like arthritis or infection. You can sense the pain as sharp and severe or mild and dull. In addition, you may feel inflammation or swelling, and you may be unable to extend your leg.;
In the beginning, you may only experience mild symptoms, but if you ignore them and dont treat them properly, the pain will become worse, and you may develop chronic pain over time.;
Some of the common symptomsto identify posterior knee pain may include aching knee, audible snap in the knee, rapid swelling, bruising, burning pain, impact to the knee, instability, knee joint pain, pain when kneeling, running or sitting, kneecap pain, swollen or twisted knee.
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People who are most prone to experience all sorts of knee pain are athletes. However, according to medical data, women are even more likely to experience knee pain than men. Also, its common for older people to suffer from knee pain because of osteoarthritis.
Now when we have defined the pain behind the knee, lets see what the possible causes are.