At the Magaziner Center for Wellness we have 30 years experience in helping people with their joint pain and with the challenges they may face because of low hormone levels. As we help our patients with a holistic, whole body approach, we find that many patients have many concurrent issues that prevents them from living a pain-free, energetic lifestyle. Two challenges that are often found together are low hormone levels and joint pain, especially in aging women.
Low hormone levels and joint pain, individually, are complex issues on their own. When a patient comes into our office for a complaint of knee pain or hip pain, it is usually not a complaint that has suddenly come upon them. It is usually a complaint that has followed them for years, through a morass of ineffective treatments including pain medications and, a constant reminder at the orthopedist’s office that a hip or knee replacement is a future and seemingly unavoidable destiny.
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness we offer pioneering and innovative stem cell and platelet rich plasma therapies to help people regenerate damaged tissues in their painful joints. For some people we may suggest a comprehensive look at their hormone levels to help them assess how restoring low hormone levels may help them heal their joints in a more rapid manner.
As mentioned, joint pain and low hormone levels are complex issues. There are many hormones and they can all have an impact on each other and how your joints repair. In this article we will focus on Menopausal and Postmenopausal women with chronic joint pain and low estrogen levels.
Estrogen supplementation helps with joint pain
In the November 2018 issue of the medical journal Menopause, (1) investigators lead by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the University of Iowa examined whether or not estrogen supplementation could help with the problems of chronic joint pain. This research was inspired to address mixed or conflicting earlier studies which could not definitely suggest estrogen supplementation provided benefit.
Side note: In this study horse or equine estrogens are compared to placebo. In our office we do not use horse estrogen, we use bio-identical hormones which will be touched on below.
- In this study, 10,739 postmenopausal women who have had a hysterectomy were randomized to receive daily oral conjugated equine estrogens or a matching placebo. The frequency and severity of joint pain and joint swelling were then monitored.
- At baseline, joint pain and joint swelling were closely comparable in the randomization groups (about 77% with joint pain and 40% with joint swelling).
- After 1 year, joint pain frequency was significantly lower in the estrogen-alone group compared with the placebo group, as was joint pain severity, and the difference in pain between randomization groups persisted through year 3.
- However, joint swelling frequency was higher in the estrogen-alone group.
Conclusion: The current findings suggest that estrogen-alone use in postmenopausal women results in a modest but sustained reduction in the frequency of joint pain.
A connection: What we are pointing out here is that the basis of our joint pain program surrounds the use of stem cell and Platelet Rich Plasma therapies and their impact on the inflammatory healing response. The body needs inflammation and swelling to heal. In this study, estrogen helped with pain, but it left the swelling alone. This is a clue that estrogen maybe trying to help heal the joint.
Low estrogen can lead to bone on bone in hips in knees
To researchers in China, there is no question that estrogen deficiency can accelerate a bone on bone condition. At China’s Institute of Medical Information, School of Biomedical Engineering, Southern Medical University, investigators published findings in the journal Ultrasound in medicine and biology. (2)
- In this animal study, the researchers looked at rapid, spontaneous degeneration of cartilage in the joints of female rats who had their ovaries removed and, as such, the impact of the resulting low-estrogen levels.
- At three weeks after ovary removal, the articular cartilage in the female rat’s knees lost significant thickness.
- The researchers concluded that estrogen depletion induces cartilage loss and joint deterioration in the hip and knee pretty rapidly.
This same team of researchers did not stop there. In a later study from 2017 they expanded their work to include what is happening to the bone in these animal joints. In the journal BioMed research international, (3) they published results that suggested that estrogen deficiency causes significant cartilage breakdown but not significant bone breakdown in the early stages of estrogen deficiency induced osteoarthritis.
What this means is that early treatment that enhances and repairs the cartilage will protect joints from bone spurs. As we know, many women go to joint replacement because of overgrowth of bone in the joints, bone spurs.
What we have pointed out in this article is that:
- There is a connection between low estrogen levels and joint pain in postmenopausal women.
- In many patients we see, there has been a long history of joint problems that have become progressively worse at a more accelerated level after menopause.
- A holistic approach to healing may be suggested to patients with difficult to treat joint pain who exhibit other and numerous health concerns, including low hormone levels.
A brief note on bio-identical hormones (BHRT)
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we offer bio-identical hormones (BHRT). Bio-identical hormones are different than synthetic hormones because they are structurally and chemically similar to the three estrogens naturally produced by the body – Estriol, Estradiol and Estrone
The body responds to and metabolizes synthetic hormones differently than bio-identical hormones. Bio-identical hormones are considered by many to be far safer and more effective than synthetics and, therefore, have grown in use.
If you would like to explore your joint pain and it possible relationship to low hormone levels, please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
1 Chlebowski RT, Cirillo DJ, Eaton CB, Stefanick ML, Pettinger M, Carbone LD, Johnson KC, Simon MS, Woods NF, Wactawski-Wende J. Estrogen alone and joint symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative randomized trial. Menopause. 2018 Nov;25(11):1313-1320.
2 Wang Q, Liu Z, Wang Y, Pan Q, Feng Q, Huang Q, Chen W. Quantitative Ultrasound Assessment of Cartilage Degeneration in Ovariectomized Rats with Low Estrogen Levels. Ultrasound Med Biol. 2016 Jan;42(1):290-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2015.
3 Wang Y, Liu Z, Wang Q, Feng Q, Chen W. Early Detection of Tibial Cartilage Degradation and Cancellous Bone Loss in an Ovariectomized Rat Model. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:9654056.