Junior Member (female)
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Glasgow Scotland Uk
More than just aches and pains... joints and tendons and how your ovaries go mad!
I am posting here in the hope that it may help some other women who are going through the same thing as me, and have been told by their doctor that there is nothing wrong with them.
I have been skipping periods for months at a time over the last 15 months. At aged 50, I knew I was perimenopausal, and was feeling slightly smug as I seemed to be relatively symptom free. No sweats, hot flushes etc, just dry skin and a bit weepy and irritable. Then literally out of the blue, my arms and shoulders started hurting. Really really badly. Deep, ripping pain near the bone that is either at the shoulder, or in the front of the elbow. It literally began overnight, initially with the pain only occurring when my arms are in certain positions such as back hooking a bra, leaning into the back seat of the car, or having the dog lead jerked by the dog when I was holding it! Now, three months on, on top of this pain I have a dull ache in both shoulders all the time, and it is also into my hips. I am hobbling around like an old 90 year old woman. Mornings are worst, where I seem to have turned to stone in my sleep. My arms and shoulders are like blocks of cement, and hurt so badly. My left elbow clicks all the time.
I went to my elderly male GP three months ago - he is the rheumatology 'expert' of the practice - and was told he could find nothing physically wrong. There was no inflammation, I had a good range of movement, no muscle weakness. I said I am in cripplingly severe pain. I was given amytriptiline for the 'nerve pain' (in other words, you are an anxious hypochondriac and it is all in your mind.) I asked if it could be hormonal, given my age, and was told that joint pain was not a symptom of menopause! I came home thinking I had some sort of bone cancer and it was getting worse. I was popping my husbands backpain killers like sweets, and mixing tramadol and co codamol to get relief...not like me as I hate taking meds.
A couple of weeks later I had an appointment for my three yearly smear, and the Nurse Practitioner took one look at me hobbling into the room, asked me where else my pain was, and promptly told me she thought I had something known as 'menopausal arthritis' or 'menopausal tendonitis'. I was flabbergasted. It turns out she has a background in research and has a lifelong interest in woman's health. She researched this condition, which only happens to one in about 500 women. Usually, these women have very few other symptoms, and are thought to have had a sudden abrupt stopping of oestrogen, instead of a gradual decline. Oestrogen is, amongst other things, responsible for keeping our connective tissue soft, elastic and supple. What happens in this condition is that without oestrogen the tendons rapidly get very hard and brittle, and the fibres snap more easily causing the ripping pain - which is basically what is happening - the tendon is ripping from it's insert into the bone, a bit like the ripping sensation of plantar facitiis in the foot. It also causes pain in the other connective tissue, the muscles and joints. There is abolutely no inflammation, redness or heat involved, and no inflammation ever shows up in blood tests when tested for things with similar symptoms like polymyalgia.
Armed with this information I immediately went to the female GP recommended by the nurse practitioner who agreed with the diagnosis and started me on conjugated HRT. I am only a week in, I still have the pain but I know that it I am on the mend. Tendons take a notoriously long time to heal, and I will probably have some pain for a number of months. Of course, when I come off HRT I will have to deal with it again - but apparently it is not so bad as the body recognises it has gone through menopause naturally and adjusts. It is the sudden rapid decline in hormones in some women that causes these severe symptoms.
Interestingly - another odd symptom I had for months prior to the joint pain, also points to sudden ovarian failure. I had a vile, soapy, chemical taste for ages, that really interfered with my daily life, it was seriously bad and nothing would get rid of it. It was explained to me that as the ovaries start to decline and sputter to a halt, they sometimes put on a spurt of frenzied activity and kick out far too MUCH oestrogen into the bloodstream. Just as in pregnancy with change of taste - oestrogen is found in saliva. This accounts for the vile taste. Then when the ovaries stop working...there is no oestrogen at all, and the joint pain started. In fact, young women with breast cancer who are given drugs to totally suppress oestrogen often complain of joint pain, to the extent where they stop the therapy as it is too painful.
I am SO angry that my old male GP, who was supposed to be an expert in all things related to joints, had not even heard of this and thought I was imagining it. Silly old pompous fool - I feel like writing to him!
Please please - if you are suffering like, me, try to find a female GP, preferably older who has been through these awful hormonal changes - and mention menopausal tendonitis. I was expecting the flashes and sweats...never thought for a moment that hormones could be responsible for so much severe pain!
Who would be a woman huh.
Last edited by DC1962; 09-01-2012 at 06:05 AM.