Sudden hot flashes, poor sleep, wonky irregular periods that lead to no periods, OK, we’re prepared for all of that. But sore feet? No one told us sore feet might be a result of menopause.
If you have sore feet, it may not be entirely due to reduced estrogen, but menopause can certainly play a role. Let’s talk about why your feet hurt and what you can do about it.
Menopause, with its decline in estrogen, can cause more than pain in your lower back in menopause—and by that we mean your feet as well.
Collagen loss is part of the problem. Less estrogen affects collagen production: “Collagen is basically the building block of our musculoskeletal system - bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and skin. Less collagen synthesis means less elasticity of tendons and skin, constriction of blood vessels, decreased healing, increased risk of developing a soft tissue injury and joint pain.”
Osteopenia and osteoporosis may also play a role. A loss of estrogen after menopause may lead to lower bone density in the feet and consequently a higher risk of stress fractures in the foot.
Plantar fasciitis (heel pain that is worst in the morning) is also common among women in midlife as loss of estrogen affects the elasticity of the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.
Other changes not directly due to estrogen loss can also factor into foot pain: changes in posture due to other injuries or pregnancies, weight gain, compensation for muscle loss or poor balance can affect how we walk or stand and result in pain. Estrogen protects our soft tissues; the loss of it makes soft tissue more vulnerable to injury, inflammation, and pain.
Be aware that gout can happen to women in perimenopause and menopause. Gout pain is very different and usually sudden and severe, so if the pain comes on quickly, talk with a doctor. Gout can also get worse if left untreated, so don't wait to get help. Plantar fasciitis and collagen loss are generally slow and increase in severity over time.
Low estrogen, osteoporosis, pregnancy posture – is there any way to fix those things? There are, and we strongly suggest talking with a doc or physical therapist about all of these, for your general well-being as well as for your feet.
Here are some things you can do:
If you’re an active woman in menopause, don’t let foot pain stop you from staying active, especially as doing less won’t necessarily make your feet hurt less, but it can have a lot of other negative affects on your body and psyche.
If your feet hurt more than usual, it's best to speak with your physician, and get a referral to a podiatrist or physical therapist who can help you identify what’s going on and get your feet back under you.
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