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Hormone Imbalances are a Pain in the Neck

Nearly 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, with more than 26 million between the ages of 20 and 64 reporting frequent low back pain (the most common location). There can be many reasons to pain including injury, infection, arthritis, nerve damage etc. although there is typically an underlying inflammatory component with any primary condition that not only contributes to ongoing pain and suffering, but prevents healing and tissue repair. Testing for hormone levels is often considered when a patient reports issues with libido, hot flashes, or even fatigue, but chronic pain and inflammation are also reflections of imbalances in hormones including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and thyroid.

Estrogen deficiency has been repeatedly linked to osteoarthritis (OA) as estrogens influence the activity of joint tissues by regulating bone production and remodeling, promoting muscle growth as well as decreasing muscle breakdown. Estradiol has also been shown to enhance glycosaminoglycan synthesis and protect chondrocytes from oxygen species-induced damage. Estrogen replacement has proven to protect against OA as well as improve radiographic changes and reduce incidence of joint replacement.

Progesterone is widely touted as being anti-inflammatory, possibly because of it’s relationship to cortisol in the hormone cascade. More specifically, progesterone has been shown to reduce neuropathic pain.

Testosterone is an anabolic hormone, meaning that it contributes to the build up and strengthening of tissues. Testosterone has also been shown to reduce inflammatory markers including TNF-alpha, IL-1B and IL-6 and increase the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10.

One of the primary roles of cortisol in the body is to reduce inflammation and control an immune response. Cortisol secretion is intended to be short-term, to handle an acute situation and then return to baseline levels, however chronic stress and stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis can lead to a depletion of cortisol, allowing inflammatory processes to proceed uninhibited and lead to swelling, pain and the destruction of tissue.

Musculoskeletal symptoms are commonly seen with hypothyroid patients including muscle weakness, pain, numbness and arthritis. Furthermore, pro-inflammatory cytokines have been reduced in hypothyroid patients undergoing thyroid replacement.

Analysis and correction of hormone imbalances is imperative to the successful treatment of musculoskeetal complaints. An easy take home test is available to test those hormones. Call me at 636-278-6561.

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About Frank Nuber, RPh

Frank Nuber, RPh
Frank Nuber, RPh is a consultant, long term care provider, geriatric medication consultant, women's health and hormone consultant, and experience in clinical and hospital pharmacy.

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