The menopause is often associated with hot flushes and mood swings. But did you know that these hormonal fluctuations can lead to a higher incidence of back pain?
Oestrogen plays an important role in maintaining skeletal health, promoting the activity of bone building cells , helping to slow the breakdown of bones. A drop in oestrogen production can result in a higher incidence of osteoporosis in postmenopausal people. Falling oestrogen can also result in lower levels of vitamin D, which is essential for bone health as it is required by the body to effectively absorb calcium. These changes can result in a reduced range of mobility, or in existing back pain becoming more severe.
So what can be done?
- Get some sun. Now that summer is getting closer, it’s much easier to reach recommended levels of vitamin D. If you’re worried about skin damage, you don’t have to sit in the sun for hours on end to reap the benefits. Studies have shown that just fifteen minutes of direct sun exposure on bare skin is plenty to get enough vitamin D for the day.
- Make sure you’re eating foods on a weekly basis that are rich in vitamin D, such as oily fish like mackerel and salmon, as well as eggs, steak and mushrooms.
- Drink whole milk and eat full-fat yogurt. Not only are they rich in vitamin D, they are ideal for upping your calcium levels, which will strengthen your bones and help guard against osteoporosis. If you are on a dairy-free or vegan diet, good alternatives include soybeans, almonds, seaweed and all green vegetables, all of which are high in calcium and vitamin D. However, it’s worth noting that with these foods it’s harder to reach the recommended dose. If you drink plant-based milk, opt for one that is fortified with vitamin D.
- Try a supplement. If you’re worried that you’re not getting enough vitamin D through sunlight or food, invest in a good quality liquid supplement, which we sell at Sundial made especially for improving bone health.
- Get involved in strength-training. This can help prevent bone deterioration over time and, by building bone density, helps to protect against fractures. This doesn’t have to involve lifting heavy weights in the gym – in fact, it’s a good idea to start small with resistance bands and work your way up to more challenging lifting. If you want to learn more about how you can start strength-training, you can read all about it here.
Back pain is very common in menopausal people and is easily managed. If you’d like help with your back pain, book in for an appointment with us. We’re always happy to help.