Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on menopause and knee pain

I am a woman in my early 50s and am going through the menopause. Over the last few weeks, I have woken up with night sweats and found it difficult to get back to asleep. 

Have you any suggestions?

The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s oestrogen levels.

The symptoms that women experience include hot flushes and night sweats and these can affect your sleep. 

Anyone who experiences any degree of insomnia may find that they are tired the following day and that their quality of life is affected. 

I would advise you to make an appointment with your GP for a general check up and to discuss the how these night sweats are affecting you. In the meantime, here are some general suggestions for you which might help:

* Try to avoid having spicy food or caffeine in the hours before going to bed. The same applies to alcohol.

* If you smoke, stop.

* Eat a healthy diet and include regular exercise in your daily routine.

* The bedroom should be quiet, well ventilated, and cool, avoid having too many blankets and in summer months use a lighter duvet.

* Wear light, cotton clothing.

* When you wake during the night, don’t look at the clock, this can become a habit and add to your worry about not sleeping. When you set the alarm, turn the clock face away from you.

* Try not to worry about sleep problems — sometimes easier said than done.

There are a number of different treatment options for the symptoms of the menopause including medication and lifestyle changes. You will be able to discuss these with your GP, who I am sure will be able to reassure and advise you.

I have started to walk every evening to increase my fitness level. I feel great but in the last few days my left knee has been painful, could I have strained it?

As the knee pain has occurred recently and after an increase in activity, it is possible that it is caused by overuse of the knee. With a strain, the muscles in the knee have stretched due to an increase in activity, given time it will heal and there should be no permanent damage.

In the short term, you could follow the below treatment:

* Prevent any further injury.

* Rest the affected joint for 48 to 72 hours.

* An ice pack may help, you could use a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a dishcloth and place over the knee for 15 to 20 minutes. You can do this every two to three hours.

* Compression — your pharmacist can advise you on the most appropriate elastic bandage.

* Elevate the knee to above hip level, lie on the sofa with a cushion under your foot.

* Paracetamol or anti- inflammatory such as ibuprofen will help to ease the pain.

If you continue to have pain then you will need to see your GP who can examine your knee and advise on the appropriate management.

When the pain is gone and you return to walking, it is important that you warm up and cool down before you start as this will reduce the risk of injury. 

Increase your activity level gradually —don’t run before you can walk. Make sure you have the appropriate footwear for your activity level and the surface that you are walking on.

I hope this is only a temporary set back and that you can get back to exercising in the near future.


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