March 6, 2016

Saralyn Mark, MD Feedback from TappMD Expert
Saralyn Mark, MD
Joint Pain
Joint pain can be related to hormonal levels especially progesterone. Some women complain of pain when they take hormonal supplements as well.

According to research published in Maturitas, not only are middle-aged women prone to achy muscles and joints that might be otherwise known as fibromyalgia, but, those aches and pains may actually be related to hormonal changes. Indeed, when they reanalyzed information collected from over 8,300 women between the ages of 40 and 59, they learned that muscle and joint aches during this time period were significantly related to menopausal symptoms — not only did more than half of the women (63%) suffer from muscle and joint achiness, but, it appeared to double in prevalance in women ages 55 to 59 compared to their younger (40 to 44 year old) peers. Moreover, it tripled in women who were five years into menopause compared to the same group of women.

About 16% of these women said that their symptoms were severe or very severe. And importantly, these women tended to display so-called epidemiological characteristics, things like lower socioeconomic status (and by default, less likely to have the means to pay for better healthcare) or a history of psychiatric care. Regardless, there also appeared to be a direct correlation between feeling less healthy and having severe muscle and joint aches. And, women who had surgical menopause carried an even higher risk of presenting with worse joint symptoms.

Study findings also showed that the more intense menopause symptoms were, the more severe muscle and joint aches appeared to be; up to 60% of women with severe vasomotor symptoms also reported severe to very severe aches and pains.

It is possible that the central nervous system has some sort of role, as it impacts both symptoms and joint and muscle pains. Another commonality is that among women with fibromyalgia, symptoms like weakness, anxiety and insomnia — also seen during menopause — are present.

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Saralyn Mark, MD

Saralyn Mark, MD, an endocrinologist, geriatrician and women's health specialist, was the first Senior Medical Advisor to the Office on Women's Health within the Department of Health and Human Services for 11 years and to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As Senior Medical Advisor, Dr. Mark was responsible for the development and analysis of initiatives and programs on emerging technologies, public health preparedness, physician workforce issues, sex and gender-based medicine and women's health on Earth and in Space.