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Are Heel Pain and Menopause related?

In our Townsville Podiatry clinic we see many more middle aged women with heel pain than younger women - are hormones at play?

Sometimes, pain creeps up on you – it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact moment it started.  But suddenly you’re sore all the time.

Menopause can be the same! There is no clear start or ending point of menopause; but when it does begin there is a rapid drop in oestrogen in the first six months then it continues to steadily decline over the next 3 years. Menopause usually starts around the ages of 45 - 55 years. 

So what are the symptoms of Menopause?

When you think of someone heading into menopause usually you imagine hot flushes, sleep disturbances, mood changes, weight gain, changes to the menstrual cycle etc... all of these changes can be attributed to the lowering  oestrogen levels.

But reduced oestrogen, combined with ageing, can also impact the health and happiness of our skeletal tissues. 

Lower oestrogen affects our 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.  Oh the joy!

Age related loss of muscle size and strength (also known as sacropaenia)  in addition to low oestrogen related  weight gain can leave  middle aged women in a precarious position.  It can also change the way women walk, move and hold themselves.  

The thing is, pre-menopause women have a lower risk of soft tissue injury than men do but once menopause kicks in and oestrogen levels drop - soft tissue injury risk increases.  That’s why we see way more middle aged women with heel pain than younger women.  But not only heel pain Achilles tendon pain, ankle pain, knee/hip/back postural pain can all increase during menopause – especially if there are changes in the way women walk .

So is heel pain related to menopause? The answer is – it  can be.

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