Muscle Pain and Tension
While muscle pain and tension is not the most “popular” and feared menopause symptom, it can be a cause for the major discomfort, making your life miserable.
Menopause muscle pain may be a sign of hormonal imbalance, associated with menopause, and it is considered as an inevitable part of the natural aging process.
A woman’s body goes through many changes around menopause because of the dramatic decline in estrogen production beginning in Perimenopause. All people get aches and pains from time to time; however, we usually know the probably and logical causes: heavy lifting, dangerous falls, too much gardening, over exercising, etc.
Women approaching menopause, however, report that they experience pain, sore muscles, which strain easily, or find that they are holding tension in the muscles throughout the day, for no apparent reason.
Muscles, tendons and bones all have estrogen receptors and these parts of the body can suffer and become weaker from a lack of estrogen resulting in daily pain.
Menopause muscle pain is closely related to stress and anxiety. Muscle pain tension is the feeling that muscles are always tight or strained, sometimes to the point of frequent pain or even persistent and ongoing pain. The pain or cramps can be in any of the body’s muscles.
As menopause nears, a woman’s body reacts in many ways. The main female hormones, estrogen and progesterone begin to fluctuate erratically as they prepare to settle into low levels for the remainder of your life. Both estrogen and progesterone play a part in causing menopause muscle pain. Estrogen applies a suppressing effect on the stress hormone cortisol. When estrogen is too low, levels of cortisol rise causing increase of blood pressure and blood sugar. High levels of cortisol against low levels of estrogen leads to chronic muscle tension, fatigue, weakness and muscle spasms.
Progesterone has a calming effect on the body and mind. When levels of progesterone begin to decline prior to menopause, muscles have a tendency to become tense.
Imbalances in testosterone can also contribute to muscle problems during menopause, as women find it more difficult to sustain muscle strength and tone.
During menopause your body lays down an extra layer of fat around the middle “apple shape”. As a result of this weight gain some women may experience greater muscle strain.
Causes of Muscle Tension
* Hormonal imbalance as a woman approaches menopause as Primary Cause.
* Past injuries
* Bad posture
Most Commonly Reported Symptoms of Muscle Tension:
* Twinges of pain
* Lack of muscle control
* Tightness in the muscles (back, shoulder, neck and abdomen)
* Sharp tingling sensations
* Muscle tenderness
* Tension headaches
* Stress and anxiety
* Muscle spasms
What Can You Do?
Since the primary source of the muscle tension related troubles, as for many other menopause symptoms, is the hormonal misbalance, the containment and recovery approach will be related to all possible activities that will help to improve the hormonal balance in the body.
Here are just few recommendations:
1. Lifestyle changes are the least obtrusive form of treating muscle tension. A woman who suffers from muscle tension should first try simple muscle stretches.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet – high in nutrients and minerals.
3. Apply moderate caffeine consumption. Consistent use of nourishing herbal infusions, especially comfrey leaf and stinging nettle, in place of coffee, tea, and sodas, might be a real help while fighting with the described condition.
4. If you smoke – quit.
5. Stay hydrated – consume recommended water intake for adults.
6. Exercise regularly – keep your body supple with stretching exercises and maintain a healthy level of fitness. The exercise should be reasonably gentle - walks, yoga or tai chi practices - keeps muscles from weakening and becoming more painful. Experts suggest starting with as little as three minutes a day, and gradually building to at least four sessions of five minutes each per day. Persist; the reward is worth it.
7. Choose lifestyle activities, which promote the stress reduction and mind calming effects, like meditation, yoga, reiki, dancing, or drumming.
8. Regular massage from an experienced therapist stimulates the circulation of blood and energy, relieves pain, reduces fatigue, and eases stiffness. Avoid deep tissue massage; it increases pain. Light strokes and gentle myofascial releases are more helpful.
9. Temporary relief of pain – can be found from painkillers, heat pads, herbal remedies or alternative medicine techniques such as yoga, massage, acupuncture etc.
10. Take steps to ensure that you achieve restful sleep each night. Women dealing with muscle pain usually experience less severe symptoms, if they sleep in a completely dark room. If that is impossible, wear a sleep mask.
11. Alternative medicines - herbs, vitamins, and supplements. It is important to realize that there are some alternative medicines, sometimes called natural remedies, which will treat the symptoms but not the underlying cause of muscle tension. Because muscle tension is causes largely by hormonal imbalance during menopause, find herbs that help to stimulate natural hormonal production. Another form of alternative medicine that can help alleviate muscle tension is acupuncture or massage.
12. Attend meetings of the support groups, where you can discuss your challenges with other women’ stories, share your personal experience and your magic tricks on how to deal with these, occasionally debilitating, symptoms, and get recommendations from others. Try carefully and see if the obtained tips work to you. Do not fight alone – it is easier and smarted to cope, getting support from the team.
13. Establishing hormonal balance is paramount to successfully alleviating menopause symptoms. If the substantial improvements cannot be achieved with lifetime changes or through natural solutions, hormonal balancing therapies, such as HRT, may need to be considered.
14. Finally, some women with exceedingly severe muscle tension will want to turn to medications or surgery for relief. Consult a healthcare professional before administering this treatment option. Although medications might be the only way to attain relief for some women, they typically come with harsh side effects.
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