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Menopause & Muscle Stiffness

by
author image Heather Topham Wood
Heather Topham Wood is a seasoned writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including USA Today, Gadgetell, Feel Rich and Step in Style. Heather is a published novelist with six Amazon bestsellers and a contract through Crescent Moon Press. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from TCNJ.
Menopause & Muscle Stiffness
A mature woman is exercising on a stability ball in a studio. Photo Credit Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

When you go through menopause, hormone fluctuations change your body composition. The loss of muscle and the accumulation of fat could cause discomfort and stiffness in your muscles and joints. Your doctor may recommend medications or lifestyle changes to treat muscle stiffness that occurs during menopause.

Features

When you age and go through menopause, you lose cartilage between the joints. Fluid between the joints decreases and you may find that your joints are less flexible. A side effect of the changes includes stiffness in the joints and muscles. Muscle fibers shrink as women age and lost tissue is replaced at a much slower rate. The changes in the muscle lessen the ability to contract muscles. The stiffness may result from the rigidness in your muscles.

Effects

The decrease in estrogen can be an attributing factor to muscle stiffness experienced by menopausal and post-menopausal women. Women that have gone through menopause have less lean muscle mass than women who have yet to go through menopause. Although aging causes a loss of muscle mass, changes in the release of hormones are believed to accelerate how quickly muscle is lost and decreases in muscular function.

Considerations

Since a reduction in estrogen affects muscle function in menopausal women, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy as a method to treat stiffness and discomfort. According to research published in 2003 in the “Journal of Endocrinological Investigation,” studies have shown conflicting reports on whether hormone replacement therapy is helpful for symptoms related to body composition changes.

Prevention/Solution

To combat the stiffness in the muscles and decreases in size that occur during menopause, make changes to your diet and exercise regimen. According to a 2009 study published in the “Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions,” low protein intake and decreased physical activity can attribute to muscular problems affecting menopausal women. Eat a diet full of lean proteins such as fish, chicken breast, skinless turkey, beans and low-fat dairy items. Participate in aerobic and strength training activities for a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week.

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