Joint Pain with PMS

Updated on December 16, 2014
K.L. asks from Bozeman, MT
14 answers

I asked a similar question about this last December. At that time I was still nursing my baby girl and was having joint pain that would come and go quite randomly. She has been weaned for about seven months now. In the last few months I have noticed a pattern of the joint pain starting about ten days before my period and lasting until the first day of my actual period.

For example: This month the pain started on the eighth. It began in my left ankle (bad enough that I was limping) and in my right knee (shooting pain on the inside of the knee). It continued in both of those places, but I also experienced "migrating pain" through my wrists, shoulders and hips. My left ankle was the most severe pain, this time, and my right ankle started hurting as well a few days later. Yesterday (the 18th) the pain was at it's peak and my left ankle actually swelled and felt slightly bruised, my knees were also painful all day as well as my right ankle. I had been taking Tylenol PM for the last four days in order to sleep at night. I woke up this morning, started my period and the pain is GONE....I still have some stiffness, but it's like after affects of the pain.

I saw my OB/GYN last month about this and some other matters. One of which was some severe anxiety and possible postpartum depression. She put me on Zoloft and said she thought that maybe the pain brought on during PMS was a physical manifestation of the anxiety that was heightened during PMS. I've been on the Zoloft for over a month and this month's pain was worse than ever before. I called the doctor again today. She has upped my dosage of Zoloft and asked that I stay on that for another month and see if it helps.

I can definitely tell that the Zoloft is helping with my every day anxiety the rest of the month, but not during my "time".

My question is....has anyone else ever experienced something like this? Or heard of it? My doctor has never dealt with PMS symptoms this severe and I have never had PMS this bad until after I had my daughter. I had a tubal ligation done when I had my c-section, but the doctors all assured me that it would not interfere with my cycles or hormones. Has anyone heard of anything that could cause this?

I know that I'll probably just have to wait it out and see what happens next month, but this is SO frustrating! I have two small children and this pain is not just an annoyance's really affecting my day to day life for TEN DAYS every month! I feel like I can hardly bring myself to get out of bed, let alone give my children all the things they need. Waiting a month for answers is a daunting proposition....I guess I'm just looking for some possible explanations and the promise of light at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks in advance for any answers!


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So What Happened?

Soooo.....this month the pain came back the day after my period. It was cold here on Monday and Tuesday and those days were the worst. So far it's still hanging around....some days are better than others. I saw my doctor yesterday and he is testing again for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, etc....basically, he said that if we rule out all of those possibilities than we are probably left with Fibromyalgia. He's prescribed a mild sleep aid to see if we can get my fatigue taken care of. Thank you all so much for your advice and suggestions. Hopefully I will know for sure what I am dealing with soon and start taking some steps to remedy it....for now I am just going to try to get as much rest as possible and see what happens!!

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answers from San Francisco on

I get pain in my left ankle before my period. It's excrutiating. Once my period starts, it's gone. Don't know what's going on but you are not alone...

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answers from Goldsboro on

I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but I STRONGLY suggest you have a doctor check you for fibromyalgia and/or rheumatoid arthritis.
I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia that started when my little boy was about a year old. One of the symptoms is painful periods.
The "migrating" pain you speak of is a very classic FM symptom, as is the anxiety/depression and stiffness.

I may be way off base on this, but it can't hurt to be checked out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

obviously keep you doctor involved, but I had terrible aches and pains and nausea that have totally gone away since I gave up trans fats. It isn't as hard as you'd think. Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

I'm so glad I found this site. My baby is now 19 months and my period just came back when I was 17 months postpartum. I've noticed that since I got my period back I've been experiencing joint sore/pains it started on my knees and then elbows then my wrist/shoulders nd my ankles. I went to my doctor and had some tests (magnesium-calcium test/bmp test/CBC test/thyroid screening/sed rate test) all is normal. She referred me to a neurologist cause sometimes I'm xperiencing tingling in my hands and feet which she thought might be a sign of MS. I had MRI of the brain just to make sure it's not MS or any other problem. And it came out normal. I think some of my symptoms came from anxiety cause I really got scared and I worried a lot of these joint and muscle pain symptoms I've read something bout hormone relaxin that when you're still breastfeeding your baby it makes your joints loose so probably that's the cause. I'm still breastfeeding him and having a hard time to wean him cause sometimes he's so picky. I wish some of my symptoms is just really from anxiety and some hormonal cause it really started when I got my period back after 17 months.

Thanks for this site now I'm less worried cause I know I'm not just the who's been experiencing this.



answers from Provo on

Right away my thought was that you have fybromyalgia. I've had it for almost 10 years now off an on. At it's worst it feels like electricity running down my arms from my shoulders or down my legs from my hips. Sometimes I'd go to get up and get 'stuck' in a position because the pain was so bad and not be able to move. My knees are one of the first things to start hurting when it flairs up for me, and it feels like I have knives behind my kneecaps digging around back there when I walk or move them. I don't want to say this to say how bad it can be, but that what you are saying totally sounds familiar. I don't know if I've ever noticed it flair up with my period, but I know I do get worse PMS than I ever did before. I notice it a lot when the seasons change, and when I'm more stressed out, etc. There are a lot of things I've found that can trigger it.
The best pain meds that I've found that help dull it is Naproxin or Naproxin Sodium(sp?) I think it's in Advil, but I actually bought a generic bottle of it at walmart. For a while I was taking 2,000 mg of Ibuprofen everyday and it wouldn't touch it. The Naproxin seriously helped SO much!!!

A few other things that I've found that help me a lot: DON't EAT SUGAR! or at least don't just eat junk food all the time. The more sugar I eat the worse it gets, except when I'm not feeling it, then I can eat all I want and it doesn't start it either. Also, get as much sleep as you can. If you are having trouble sleeping, or it is acting up, I can't remember why this helps, but eating cheeses, dairy, meats, things that take longer to digest and have more protein seem to help too, perhaps they are easier on the body. I don't know. But it does make a difference.

When I was first diagnosed with it (a few years after I started having symptoms) they put me on a mild anti-depressant to help me sleep. It made me so lethargic and I hated it. I might have helped a little, but mostly it made me feel like a zombie. Since then I've found other ways to deal with it and help it that don't have all the side effects of meds.

I have about a 20 page document on Fybromyalgia that I received from a doctor, and it talks about diagnosing it, what it is, things you can do for it. There is a lot of good advice and natural ways to over come it if you are interested. I would be happy to email it to you. Just send me a message with your email address and I'll pass it along. Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions or want to talk!!!



answers from Salt Lake City on

I swear doctors think anti-depressants will cure EVERYTHING these days. I went in last year for joint pain and some other issues that I suspected were related to my thyroid (I've been hypo since my 2nd child was born), and she prescribed Wellbutrin), and said it was just stress. Admittedly, I take fluoxetine (Prozac generic) for PMS, but only 7-10 days a month, just before my period, to help with anger, frustration and general crabiness from PMS that was severely affecting my work & home relationships. (it was per MY request to go on it, not my doctors). It does NOT help with PMS cramps or my chronic joint pain. What has helped dramatically with the latter is Glucosamine/MSM. After trying it on and mostly off (the drinks, horse size pills and capsules that stick to the back of my throat) for a few years, I finally found a pill I can swallow (well, it's actually 3 of them), and 6 wks later viola! Pain is not completely gone, but it is Sooooooooo much better. It's been like a miracle drug.

Not sure it's right for you, but if after testing for FM and RA (as someone else rightly suggested), and whatever else anyone can think of, and they all come back negative, and/or your Zoloft doesn't do the trick, give the Gluc/MSM a try. Oh, you may want to make sure they've tested your thyroid. Your symptoms aren't exactly classic, but it is very common in women post partum.

Good luck!



answers from Denver on

I wish I had any more suggestions to add, but I just wanted to say hang in there. I don't get the severe joint pain, but for a week before I feel like I am a demon and I am very weak in the joints. They are very achy but Advil works for that. The symptoms do go away as soon as I start. It's not like that every time anymore, but I believe it was really bad for awhile after I had my daughter. I think the less sleep and the PPD did play a role for my low tolerance of pain. Definitely get checked out by a regular doctor, it can't hurt. Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

I'am now 30 have always had regular periods I nursed all my children however my baby I just stoped nursing her 2 months ago @ 15 months.I have felt this pain I explain to my friend that I always start cramping 2 weeks prior I feel my ovulation then backs aches set in a few days followed by hip pain knee pain then ankles I thought it could be due to wearing flip flops but it would only occur around the time of the month weird I know but everyone is different I have put on extra 15-20 lbs that I need to lose this Fall.I do use Benadryl to help fall asleep as well as Tylenol PM (generic)My cramping is becoming more painful when I was younger I had them really bad and heavy bleeding after kids they supsided for yrs but now I can't handle them I can but it's a UUGH this again.I was checked for Lupus & RA negative.All my blood work has come back fine.



answers from Denver on

Wow, some of these answers scared the heck out of me!! Of course it's never a bad idea to rule things out, but I have to say, fibromyalgia and arthritis don't generally come and go, and aren't tied to your cycle. Not a doctor, but just wanted to lend a little perspective in case you are freaked out. Ask your doc specifically about these, and I know the posts came from a place of concern, but please don't panic.

Anyway, I also have horrible joint pain prior to my period, mine is usually my knees and back, sometime hips. My OB/GYN said it's related to the hormones. I can't remember all the medical lingo, but it was basically somehing about how tendons/ligaments need to stretch out or adjust in preparation for pregnancy, which is why it's tied to your cycle.

Mine is usually manageable with Advil, yours is obviously not. If Zoloft is helping, don't let anyone make you feel bad about that. It's FINE!! Again, not a doctor, but I am a psychologist and work with lots of psychiatrists so I have seen thousands of people on Zoloft for long periods of time and it is fine.

But it sounds like the Zoloft isn't doing everything to control the pain. I don't know if they need to check hormone levels, again- worth asking. Also, Zoloft is an SSRI, there are newer drugs that are SSNRI (same as Zoloft with an added benefit to control pain receptors). Cymbalta is an example. Again, can't hurt to ask.

There may be a simple explanation for the pain, but sometimes you need to advocate for yourself because it is really interfering with your life. If you like your doc, great, I'm not saying dump her. But if she doesn't understand this or isn't as helpful as you'd like on this issue- see someone else for this matter.

Good luck and I hope you're feeling better soon.



answers from Los Angeles on

K.! OMG your story fits mine to the t, I have been dealing with
Horrible pain in my joint 7-10 days before my period for 14 months
Since the c section birth of my son, the pain is so intense i pass out from the pain... I have been to over 7 dr and specialist and only came up with fibro,
A nutritionist told me it was my hormone called progesterone and prostaglandin that gets all crazy but no cure



answers from Memphis on

Postpartum Thyroiditis. Not enoguh doctors are treating it and too manyare dishing out anti-depressants. I know this thread is old, but I truly hope this helps someone avoid a cycle of incorrect treatments.



answers from Kansas City on

I am experiencing the same thing!!! I have had crippling pain that starts in my hips and runs down my legs (my right mostly). I was almost in tears the other night from the pain. I take ibuprofen and it helps, but it comes back. I noticed when I started my period the pain went away, that's why Im thinking it's related to hormones!!! It just makes sense! I am 45, in great shape, not overweight, alittle stressed but not on any meds! I read on here that others said something about peri-menapause and I believe that!!! Hormones can make a person crazy!! I think they effect way more than we realize! This sight has helped me tons! I don't feel like I have bone cancer or some other disease now! I will also look into getting some acupuncture, sounds like that will work best for this season of my life! Thanks!



answers from Bangor on

I'm experiencing the severe knee pain every month right before my period. I get sick to my stomach from the pain. This month its so painful i could use crutches to walk around. I have been previously diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the same knee. I've only been experiencing this kind of pain for the last few month but I've also been very stressed. From reading other peoples responses I'm guessing that has a lot to do with it. I'm 44 so maybe its menopause?? I never had pain with periods. I've noticed that over the last few year that I'll have one less painful month of cramping and then a terrible cycle with back pain and cramping?? I'd like to try acupuncture. Because of a heart arrhythmia and the meds for that I can't take anything but just basic tylenol for pain. It doesn't touch the pain I'm in. All of these other comments have been helpful, I now know where to take the conversation with my doctor. I just want my life back~



answers from Grand Junction on

Hi K.,

I had similar joint pain in my wrists, elbows and joints for several months a couple years ago. At the same time, I was also physically exhausted and couldn't stay awake past 8:30 even when I was sleeping soundly for 10-11 hours the night before. My doctor thought it could be a thyroid issue and ran some blood tests, which came out normal. At that point I decided to go the Eastern route and went to my acupunturist who can always cure me when no Western doctor can.

The acupuncturist said that the joint pain and exhaustion was related to shifting hormones due to early perimenopause. She said that when women's hormones start shifting, all sorts of physical symptoms can come up, but if women can get their hormones balanced, they often disappear. She treated me with acupuncture and gave me some Chinese herbs to help balance out the hormones, and the joint pain went away and within a couple weeks (and one more treatment) my energy came back too. I am still on the herbs and whenever I feel something physical going on (low energy, break-outs on my face, bloating, etc.) I go in to see her and she fixes me! I don't know how it works, but it works for me, if you are up for an alternative to prescription meds and running around in circles...

Good luck!

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