Menopause joint pain, also known as menopausal arthralgia, is a common symptom experienced by people during the menopausal transition.

Menopausal arthralgia can affect various joints, including the hands, knees, hips, or spine. People may experience aching, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.

This article discusses the causes of menopause joint pain and how to help alleviate it.

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Joint pain is common during the menopausal transition. Exactly how many people experience it is unknown, but some studies indicate that more than half of middle-aged females experience musculoskeletal symptoms, including joint pain.

Joint pain during the menopause transition may have various causes, including:

Hormonal fluctuations

Estrogen has anti-inflammatory properties, so fluctuating estrogen levels during menopause can lead to increased inflammation in the body. This can affect the joints and cause pain and stiffness.


Aging increases the risk of developing degenerative joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis. Over time, joint wear and tear can lead to the breakdown of cartilage, resulting in joint pain and discomfort.

Weight gain

Many people experience weight gain during menopause due to hormonal changes, a slower metabolism, and other factors. Excess weight can increase the stress on weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips, leading to increased pain.

Decreased muscle mass

Menopause can lead to sarcopenia, a decline in muscle mass and strength. Since muscles support joint function, reducing muscle mass can leave joints more vulnerable to pain and injury.

Inflammatory conditions

Hormonal changes during menopause can also contribute to inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which can cause joint pain.

Bone density changes

The decline in estrogen levels during menopause can decrease bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis may lead to fractures and inflammation that can cause or worsen joint discomfort.

Physical activity and lifestyle factors

Activity and lifestyle can contribute to joint pain during menopause. A lack of physical activity can lead to stiffness and pain, and the more a person’s joints hurt, the less physically activities they will likely do, making the problem worse.

Conversely, overexertion without proper conditioning can cause joint stress.

People can try to reduce menopause joint pain in the following ways:

Consider hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) involves taking medications containing female hormones to replace the ones the body stops making during menopause. This can help alleviate various menopausal symptoms, including joint pain, by:

  • Reducing inflammation: Estrogen has anti-inflammatory effects. By supplementing the body’s estrogen levels, HRT can help reduce the inflammation contributing to joint pain.
  • Improving joint health: Some studies suggest that estrogen may help maintain the health of the joint lining, potentially reducing pain and discomfort.
  • Bone density support: HRT can also help prevent osteoporosis, which weakens bones and can contribute to joint pain.

Experts recommend starting HRT once symptoms appear before or after menopause. If doctors diagnose menopause in people under 45 years, they may recommend starting HRT immediately, whether symptoms are present or not.

Read more about starting HRT.

Stay active

Types of exercises that can help people experiencing menopause-related joint pain include:

  • Low impact aerobic activities: Swimming, cycling, and walking can provide cardiovascular benefits without putting too much stress on the joints.
  • Strength training: Using weights or resistance bands can help build muscle strength to support and protect the joints.
  • Flexibility and stretching exercises: Yoga and Pilates can improve flexibility, reduce stiffness, and enhance range of motion.
  • Balance exercises: Activities that improve balance, such as tai chi, can help prevent falls, especially important for maintaining joint health and overall mobility.

Eat a nutritious diet

A well-balanced diet can improve inflammation levels, overall health, and menopausal joint pain. People can include the following foods:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, can help reduce inflammation and joint pain.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and polyphenols and can combat inflammation. Berries, leafy greens, and brightly colored vegetables are particularly beneficial.
  • Whole grains: Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, which can help lower inflammation levels.
  • Soy products: Isoflavones in soy products are thought to have estrogen-like effects, which might help reduce menopausal symptoms, including joint pain. Include sources like tofu, tempeh, and edamame in the diet.
  • Water: Staying well-hydrated helps keep joints lubricated, reducing pain and stiffness.

People may wish to avoid the following foods that may contribute to inflammation and joint pain:

  • saturated and trans fats in red meat, butter, and fried or processed foods
  • sugar and refined flour in cakes, biscuits, candies, and pastries
  • alcohol and caffeine

Learn about alcohol and joint pain.

Certain supplements can support joint health and reduce menopausal symptoms:

  • Omega-3 supplements: Fish oil supplements or algae-based omega-3s can help reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamin D and calcium: These are essential for maintaining bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, and potentially easing joint pain. Vitamin D is also crucial for calcium absorption.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin: Often used together, these supplements are popular for reducing joint pain and improving joint function, although studies on their effectiveness have mixed results.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium can help maintain muscle and nerve function, support a healthy immune system, and keep bones strong.
  • Curcumin: Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce joint pain.
  • Collagen: Some studies suggest that collagen supplements can support joint health by strengthening cartilage.
  • Vitamin K: This is important for bone health and can help improve bone density and reduce fracture risk.

Read about vitamins for menopause.

If joint pain persists despite trying home remedies, lifestyle changes, and over-the-counter treatments, a doctor can help identify the cause and suggest effective treatment options.

If the joint pain is severe enough to interfere with daily activities and quality of life, seeking medical advice is important. Severe pain may require prescription medication, physical therapy, or other interventions.

For many people, menopausal symptoms, including joint pain, improve over time, especially as the body adjusts to changes in hormone levels. With early and effective management, most people can maintain a high quality of life and continue regular activities without significant limitations.

Ongoing management may be necessary for some people, especially those with pre-existing joint or bone conditions. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and periodic medical reviews can help manage symptoms in the long term.

Joint pain is a common symptom during the menopausal transition. It occurs due to hormonal changes, aging, and lifestyle factors.

Managing joint pain involves making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating well and staying physically active. Supplements and medications may help reduce inflammation and protect bone health.

If joint pain interferes with daily life, people can discuss treatment options with a doctor.