Relieve Knee, Shoulder, and Lower Back Pain
Do you enjoy dancing? Hiking? Gardening? Playing with your children or grandchildren? If you have joint pain, especially knee, shoulder, or back pain, some of your favorite activities have probably become painful and arduous, if not impossible. And because regular physical activity is essential for your physical health—even helping to stabilize your mood and keep your energy levels elevated—joint pain can have health effects that reach far beyond simply making it more difficult to move.
Unfortunately for women, the decrease in estrogen production during menopause makes joint pain even more likely. It also increases the risk of osteoporosis by reducing the body’s ability to process calcium. Women over 50 are thus far more at risk for joint pain than women under 50.
Thankfully, studies have shown that estrogen therapy may provide some relief from joint pain. In 1991, the National Institutes of Health started a long-term research program called the Women’s Health Initiative. Part of the Women’s Health Initiative was a program called the Estrogen-Alone program. The Estrogen-Alone program tested the results of estrogen replacement therapy on 10,739 women ages 50-79 who had had a hysterectomy, comparing the effects of estrogen to the effects of a placebo.
Over the course of the Estrogen-Alone program, the Los Angeles Biomedical Institute monitored women in the program for joint pain. The institute administered a questionnaire at the beginning of the program as well as one, three, and six years into the program. Before any treatments, 77 percent of the women in the program reported joint pain. Three years later, that number was down to 74.2 percent among women who were given estrogen and up to 79.8 percent among women who were given the placebo.
While these results are promising, synthetic hormone replacement therapy is not flawless. Long-term synthetic estrogen therapy has been linked to increased risk for breast cancer and other health issues, which is why many physicians recommend taking synthetic hormone treatments at the lowest dosage possible for the shortest amount of time. Even in the Estrogen-Alone program, the women taking estrogen reported a higher rate of joint pain at the six-year mark than the women taking the placebo, leading researchers to note that “the benefits of taking estrogen-only medication could outweigh the risks for about five years.”
There is an alternative, though. One of the ways to reduce the negative effects of hormone therapy is to choose bioidentical hormones over synthetic ones. Synthetic hormones, like those used in the Women’s Health Initiative, are not created structurally the same as the hormones in your body, which often leads to uncomfortable and even dangerous side effects. Bioidentical hormones, however, are an exact structural replica of the hormones in your body, and side effects are rarely observed. An added benefit of bioidentical hormones is that each dose is tailored specifically for your body’s needs—you are not simply given the dose the pharmaceutical company offers (as is the case with synthetic hormones.)
Physicians within the BodyLogicMD network are experts in the use of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and can guide you through bioidentical estrogen treatment so you can manage your joint pain and get active again. Contact a BodyLogicMD physician today.