Menopause may be an under-recognized factor in chronic pain, according to a study in the journal Menopause, which looked at the medical records of more than 200,000 women veterans in the VA system, ages 45 to 64. Those with documented evidence of menopause symptoms were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with chronic pain and multiple pain conditions as those without menopause symptoms, even after accounting for several (but not all) factors that may contribute to pain, such as age, mental health status, and obesity.
Previous observational studies have also linked menopause to onset or exacerbation of various chronic pain conditions and general body pain, though they don’t prove cause and effect. That is, while some research has shown that fluctuation in estrogen levels, as occurs during the menopause transition, may, among other mechanisms, increase pain sensitivity, “it remains unclear whether menopause symptoms contribute to chronic pain, chronic pain contributes to menopause symptom burden and/or reporting, or whether shared etiology underlies both experiences,” the authors noted.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Chronic Pain in Women vs. Men.