Cramps, bloating, headaches—these are all common symptoms that many women endure when it’s “that time of the month.” However, do you also experience recurring knee pain before your period (together with other signs of PMS) or toward the end of your menstrual flow? You might not associate this symptom to your menstrual cycle, but studies have shown that they may be related.
How Hormones Affect Muscle Functions and Nerve Responses
Aside from producing the common discomforts you experience during your period, the imbalance on the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in your body may also be causing soreness in your knees, as well as swelling in other joints. It may also result in the inflammation of certain muscles, including those near the sciatic nerve, which can cause knee pains.
In one study of women with natural menstrual cycles (no contraception), as featured in Women’s Health, researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that hormone levels may be a factor in how stable your joints are. They observed that in general, “the firing rates of the muscle fibers were significantly higher later in the women’s cycles, about a week before their next period, compared to earlier in the menstrual cycle.” When your joints are destabilized because of those rapid muscle fibers, you are prone to experiencing more pain.
Other Possible Explanations for the Pain
Just like the symptoms of PMS, knee pain coinciding with points of the menstrual cycle is not experienced by all women. Those who encounter them may feel different intensities of the pain in different durations. If the soreness lingers beyond the end of your period or if the pain recurs outside your menstrual flow, there may be another reason behind the pain.
You could be overweight, or you may be experiencing bodily changes that come with aging or special conditions like osteoarthritis. You could have suffered an undiagnosed injury from a high-impact incident or from overuse. There are also rare conditions like allodynia where the brain misinterprets sensations as pain.
Treatments to Explore
If you suffer recurring aches in your knees during your period or at any given time, have it examined by a doctor, and explore conservative knee pain treatment first. You may start with exercises and diet, weight loss programs, and pain medications. If the pain persists and the initial prescriptions don’t work, you may want to get neuro-endocrine evaluations and female hormonal assessments, which are offered in Paramus, NJ and other areas in Bergen County by MedWell Spine, OsteoArthritis & Neuropathy Center. The doctors in these facilities can also help you explore your options when it comes to treatment.
Premenstrual Tension & Sore Knees, LIVESTRONG.com
Got Knee Pain? Blame Your Cycle, Women’s Health
Seven Things You Should Know About Pain Science, Better Movement