Tendon pain- Menopause related?
May 24, 2023 6:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm 51 (AFAB) and for the last year or so I've become increasingly sore, especially tendons. Not joints, so much, but my Achilles tendons, the tendons down my arms, my shoulders, all over my body. I've read that this can be to do with a drop in oestrogen levels? But what can I do about it?

I'm quite active - cycling, walking, swimming. But it feels as if I'm developing injuries more easily, and am just generally much more stiff. You can see it in the way I get up, and in the way I walk and I don't like it!
My GP has nothing to offer.

What should I be doing? Supplements? Pilates? HRT?
posted by Zumbador to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, I should add, I don't know where I am re menopause. I've had a partial hysterectomy so don't have periods anymore, but I still have ovaries so presumably might still have a hormonal cycle.
posted by Zumbador at 6:24 AM on May 24, 2023

See if you can get bloodwork and/or a referral to a rheumatologist, and if you've got a non-shitty gynocologist, this would be a good thing to bring up with them, too. Might be endocrine, might be autoimmune, might be post-COVID, and all of those will have different treatments.

(Your GP throwing up their hands is infuriating but unsurprising, GPs are increasingly useless even when they're good, for structural reasons.)
posted by restless_nomad at 6:47 AM on May 24, 2023 [8 favorites]

Definitely worth trying HRT if you've no specific reason not to. I've done a lot of work and reading around menopause and perimenopause over the past year or so, particularly around physical activity and menopause - myself and a colleague designed and ran an (award-winning! Still proud of that!) campaign about running through peri/menopause.

Aches and pains in joints and muscles, increased recovery time, and more injuries, are all super-typical symptoms (and you're the right age, obvs - 51 is the average age for menopause and symptoms frequently extend several years before/after the actual final period).

A lot of people see HRT as a huge decision, but the reality is, you try it for 3 months and if it works then great, if it doesn't work or has other side-effects you don't like, you stop (three months is how long they recommend to find out whether you'll see any benefits - obviously if you get unpleasant symptoms before that, you can stop sooner).

There are some relatively low-odds risks attached to HRT which your GP should make you aware of, but for most people they're considered low enough to be worth giving it a go. There was a time when HRT was seen as risky for reasons like breast cancer risk, but I think most of those studies are now discredited. But you can do some due diligence and read around it before starting, to make your own call.

Somewhat related, in case it's useful reading: A recent study on menopause and physical activity - this one relates to Scotland in policy terms, but a lot of the research findings are fairly generalisable. It doesn't have magic solutions, but gives some good reading around typical experiences, symptoms, etc.
posted by penguin pie at 7:10 AM on May 24, 2023 [5 favorites]

Definitely see a GYN to figure out where you are hormonally.

In the meantime, you are not wrong that we injure more easily as we get older, and that the soft-tissue damage is super annoying. If you can get access to physical therapy, a few sessions to learn the best kind of warm-up/daily loosening exercises would be super useful, but if that's difficult to get you can find many youtube PTs with videos on it.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:14 AM on May 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

Menopause also affects testosterone. I always mention this because I can only take testosterone, and not estrogen and it’s been incredible for my surgical menopause (and my other health issues). It’s supposed to be good for muscle and bone health too. Honestly, can’t say enough good things about it but ymmv. By all means find a better doctor that cares to help, but even if it’s another diagnosis testosterone even with other hrt may help symptom wise. ETA I am happy to message anyone with more info. It’s a really important hormone.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:01 AM on May 24, 2023 [4 favorites]

Try excluding wheat from your diet for a week or two, and see how you feel.
posted by zadcat at 8:31 AM on May 24, 2023

I went back on hrt and my hands are now not nearly as painful as they were when I tried going off it. Also, the night hot flashes are much reduced. The pain relief is definitely a reason to give it a try.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:42 AM on May 24, 2023 [3 favorites]

I've been reading a couple of books on fitness for older people: "Running Until You're 100" by Jeff Galloway and "Fast After Fifty" by Joe Friel.

Neither of them mention that kind of soreness, so that's definitely a potential medical issue.

But becoming more injury prone is something that happens as we get older. It's more important to warm up thorougly before exercise. Your body also uses protein less efficiently, so you might need to up your protein intake even if it was previously enough. There's weak evidence for collagen as a supplement, I haven't tried it myself. I think it's also worth doing some stretching like these stretches, but only after exercise or a thorough warmup, cold stretching is its own injury risk.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:00 AM on May 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm your age and my pain feels more muscular than tendony, but massage therapy does wonders -- not just in the moment, but it helps me not develop bad habits to compensate for the pain.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:49 AM on May 25, 2023 [2 favorites]

I can't speak to the menopause side of the question, but I've had tendonitis in the past and chelated buffered magnesium supplements every night ever since then has dramatically reduced my aches and pains.
posted by umbú at 8:11 AM on May 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

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