20.4% of US adults over 50 have chronic pain. 

Over 1 in 5 women experience chronic pain in their lifetime. 

Spikes and drops in hormones can cause pain in men and women.

This is why I’m a big fan of cycle tracking for women – even if they don’t have a period. 

Ladies, you all cycle, even after the period stops – there’s still a monthly rhythm that your body flows to (total pun intended).

Guys also have a cycle but it’s 24 hours versus a month. 

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Knowing when pain flares during the month or day tells you a lot about your hormone levels. 

Many conventional docs won’t test hormones because “they change every day” – and while that’s true there’s a hack to that. 

Tracking cycles allows you to compare when you have symptoms to hormone release patterns.

Pain is related to shifts in these hormones in men and women…

  1. Testosterone
  2. Estrone
  3. Estradiol

Yes, men have estrogens! 

And if the estrogen, estradiol dips low there will be bone, joint, tendon and ligament pain for both sexes.

Testosterone is naturally higher in the mornings for men and women. 

So if you’re dragging to get out of bed and your pain is worse at this time it could be a testosterone thing.

Stiffness in the morning can be a result of general inflammation but pain and fatigue together it’s worth a look at testosterone levels. 

When assessing testosterone you want to evaluate:

  1. Total testosterone
  2. Free testosterone
  3. Estradiol and total estrogens
  4. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) – high levels mean the body is holding hormones due to stress while low levels means you have trouble carrying hormones through the body

Total testosterone level, which is commonly ordered, only gives a tiny bit of the picture.

If estradiol is low your pain can present as an ache that worsens over time.

Estradiol is the estrogen that’s most active when it comes to tendons, ligaments, muscle, joints, bone, cardiovascular system and more.

Men and women taking aromatase inhibitors like Arimidex or Enclomiphene or even DIM (Di-indole methane) while on testosterone supplementation may experience bone pain because they are dropping estradiol too low. 

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Frozen shoulder conditions are common in women as estradiol levels decline. 

This is why it’s so crucial to keep all your joints moving with age!

Throw that ball for the dog, kids or heck yourself if those two don’t apply. 

Overhead motions are important to include in your workout routines.

I can’t stress this enough to prevent pain…but I digress…

Low estradiol presents as aching in the joints.

It can present at certain times of the month when estradiol is low. 

Most common is right after ovulation and right before the period starts. 

Even if you don’t have a period you may see this pattern.

What can you do if you suspect your estradiol is low?

  • supplement with bio-identical estradiol (test first!)
  • take an herb like black cohosh, motherwort or sage to support estradiol
  • add a blood moving herb like schisandra berry, ginkgo or dong quai – Angelica (especially if rubbing the area relieves pain, this = poor circulation)
  • increase electrolytes to ensure signaling for hormone release is on point (Redmond’s Salt, or an electrolyte drink like LMNT or Good On Ya)
  • work on fascial tissue release to ensure all your joints are moving well (check out Julia Blackwell’s Roller Remedy)
  • do strength training exercises – even if it’s body weight or bands to start

Moving the joints and strengthening the muscles around them helps the body to bring more blood and nutrients to those areas.

The more exercise you do the more you will produce more testosterone over time. 

In the hormone production cascade, testosterone is made first then it’s converted to the three estrogens – estrone, estradiol and estriol. 

Ladies, you want testosterone to help you make more estrogen, especially after menopause.

Guys, you want your testosterone to make estradiol to support your joints. 

If you’re experiencing migraines throughout the month you may have an excess or deficiency in estrogens. 

In my experience, I’ve seen estrone, the inflammatory estrogen, in excess cause migraines…

…and I’ve seen low levels of estradiol cause migraines.

The secret to figuring it out – tracking when they show up.

For example – low estradiol right after ovulation and right before the period or excess estrogen right before ovulation and the week or so before the period.

There’s a little overlap here which makes it a little tricky so testing is ideal.

There’s a saliva test called the Cycle Mapping Test where you can assess hormone levels throughout the month, I recommend this for mixed picture migraines. 

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Excess estrogen migraines may benefit from:

  • DIM – Di-indole Methane to help detox estrogens through the liver
  • Iodine – to offset estrogen receptors
  • Magnesium to help relax muscles and aid in hormone metabolism
  • Calcium – nerve and muscle signaling
  • Sodium – cell and nerve signaling

Low estradiol migraines may benefit from:

  • Estrogen supporting herbs – hops, motherwort, sage, black cohosh
  • Magnesium to help relax muscles and aid in hormone metabolism
  • Calcium – nerve and muscle signaling
  • Sodium – cell and nerve signaling
  • Potassium – cell and nerve signaling

Where do you start if you suspect you have low testosterone or you have low free and/or total testosterone on your lab results?

  1. Make sure you’re exercising at least 5 days a week and 2-3 days are resistance training 
  2. Ensure you’re consuming at least 30-40 grams of protein at 3 meals a day
  3. Consider adding in bio-identical testosterone (women can use a little as well)
  4. DHEA is a precursor hormone to testosterone and can be helpful as long as stress levels are not boosting DHEA levels (test don’t guess!)
  5. Adrenal support formula Adaptocrine by Apex with electrolytes like Quinton’s Isotonic or Eidon’s Multiple Minerals for 3-6 months – click HERE to see my protocol

Lowered hormone production is due to chronic stress and the body struggling to repair itself. 

The adrenal glands take over for hormone production once the ovaries cease production in women. 

Strong adrenal glands going into menopause can prevent a lot of grief and pain.

If you’re already in menopause, working on your adrenals to support hormone production is key.

Adrenals often respond to simple interventions like electrolytes and mineral support (ex…calcium, magnesium sodium).

While I see the benefits of using bio-identical hormones, I believe you can put your body in balance without them.

Pain and hormones are connected.

A little sleuthing goes a long way to determine if it’s excess or deficiency of estrogens.

There are labs to help you identify what’s happening with hormones and minerals.

I don’t want anyone to let pain get in the way of enjoying life to the fullest.

There are solutions, you don’t have to use hormones if you don’t desire.

Open to learning more about minerals for energy, metabolism and hormone balance?  Listen in to my podcast with Registered Dietician Kaely McDevitt – HERE

Here’s to your health,

Dr. J

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