Giving (meno)pause to women’s pain
After menopause, women are finally free of the pain associated with their menstrual cycles — but they often have to cope with a different type of pain.
Past research has identified pain in the joints and bones as a common physical symptom in postmenopausal women, and a recent study conducted by physicians and researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that women experienced more musculoskeletal pain after menopause than before.
The study involved more than 2,200 women representing a wide range of ages, ethnicities, lifestyles and medical conditions, and looked at whether the link between pain and menopausal status could be explained by age or race or medical, lifestyle or psychosocial factors.
“None of those factors changed the fact that women have more pain after menopause,” says coprincipal investigator Sheila Dugan, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Rush.
But there is a silver lining: A soon-to-be-published follow-up study showed that women in midlife who are physically active experience less pain than women who do little or no physical activity.
Researchers don’t know what causes the increase in pain after menopause — future studies will examine whether a lack of estrogen, a shift in the estrogen-testosterone ratio or another factor could be to blame. Until they find the answer, there’s one easy way to reduce those aches and pains:
“Get moving,” Dugan says. “Physical activity truly is the best medicine.”
Women’s Health Services at
Rush University Medical Center in Chicago
Rush University Medical Center offers comprehensive health care services for women of all ages.
At Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, medical science blends with a sincere commitment to provide women with the absolute finest, most compassionate care. Specialists and subspecialists work together to address the special needs of women, from common to complex to the everyday needs of women and their families.
We offer direct access to the latest innovations and options — from prenatal care for high risk pregnancies, to diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of abdominal and pelvic disorders, to leading-edge research.
For more information about health services and medical care for women at Rush visit the Women’s Health Services home page.
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