Aching Legs During Menopause: Symptoms and Solutions

Last updated 05.28.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 15 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.

During menopause, some women notice that their legs begin to ache. Aching legs can happen at any time during the menopausal transition, but it’s particularly common during perimenopause (the build-up to menopause). That’s because, during this time, our hormones begin to shift dramatically. This can cause all kinds of physiological symptoms, including, for some women, aching legs.

Understanding the connection between this type of leg pain and menopause is essential in order to find a solution.

For many of my patients, the problem is often at its worst at night when lying down. Personally, my own leg pain tends to strike first thing in the morning when I get out of bed.

However, and whenever the problem affects you, aches and pains in the legs can interfere with your regular day-to-day activities and make life more difficult.

So, how can you get back to feeling like your own, pain-free self again?

In this post, I’ll answer this question. Plus, I’ll also go into more detail about the symptoms of aching legs and discuss some other possible causes of the problem.

But first, let’s take a moment to understand how and why menopause causes leg pain.

How Achy Leg Pains Are Related to Menopause?

For women after a certain age, those achy legs are caused by menopause. But this symptom is often overlooked. Our bodies rely on estrogen for a lot, including keeping our joints, muscles, and connective tissues happy. When estrogen levels start to plummet during perimenopause and menopause, those tissues get damaged.

Around 40% of women experience musculoskeletal aches and pains during menopause. That’s a significant number of women! This discomfort can occur in several ways:

General aches and stiffness: This is the most common culprit, leaving your legs feeling tight and achy, especially when you first get moving in the morning.

Joint pain: Estrogen plays a role in keeping our joints lubricated and happy. With less estrogen, joints like your knees and ankles can become inflamed and painful, particularly if you have a predisposition to osteoarthritis, a condition that often flares during menopause.

Muscle cramps: These nighttime leg cramps can get worse during menopause. The decline in estrogen, along with dehydration, can contribute to these unwelcome leg spasms.

While the estrogen dip is a major player, it’s not always the only culprit behind achy legs. Other factors can come into play:

  • Circulatory issues: As estrogen levels decline, women become more susceptible to circulatory problems. This can lead to poor blood flow.
  • Poor blood flow can eventually contribute to leg pain, swelling, and fatigue.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can worsen any aches and pains, including those in your legs. Make sure you’re staying hydrated throughout the day.
  • Activity level: If you’ve been less active leading up to menopause, your muscles might be more prone to aches and stiffness.

However, there are ways to manage those achy legs and get back to feeling like yourself. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to your doctor: It’s important to rule out any other underlying conditions that might be causing your leg pain.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): If appropriate for you, HRT can help replenish estrogen levels and alleviate some of the aches and pains associated with menopause.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can strengthen your muscles and improve circulation, both of which can help reduce leg pain. Low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, and yoga are great options.
  • Heat therapy: Applying a heating pad or taking a warm bath can help relax muscles and ease pain.
  • Stretching: Regular stretching can help improve flexibility and reduce stiffness in your legs.
  • Supplements: Talk to your doctor about supplements like magnesium or fish oil, which may help with muscle cramps and joint pain.

Swimming has been a lifesaver for me (quite literally!). The water buoyancy takes the pressure off my joints, and the gentle movement helps keep my muscles loose. Plus, there’s something incredibly calming about floating around in a pool.

What Causes Aching Legs During Menopause?

Aches and pains become more common as we get older. So much so that more than 50% of people aged 65 and over complain of some joint pain and stiffness somewhere in the body[1].

The legs are a common place for this type of pain to occur. I frequently see patients, both women and men, who complain of localised pain in the legs. After all, we spend much of our lives on our feet, with the muscles and joints in our hips, knees, and ankles taking most of our weight. So, it’s no surprise that, eventually, we begin to experience aching legs.

But for us women, it’s not just regular wear and tear that’s to blame. A reduction of estrogen during menopause can also play a significant role.

At one time in my life, I was a keen runner, and I’d spend at least 45 minutes a day blowing off the cobwebs on my local hiking trail. But as I transitioned into menopause, I noticed that my hips and knees were starting to complain more than they ever had before; so much so, that I was having pain simply walking around during the day.

So, rather than continue to do damage to my estrogen-deprived joints, I decided to take up swimming instead. This low impact sport has allowed me to stay fit, healthy, and active, while avoiding any further damage in my legs.

But how exactly do our shifting hormones lead to leg pain and increased wear and tear? There are several potential reasons for this.

A decline in estrogen causes a decline in bone density, which can lead to a common condition called osteoporosis. Women with osteoporosis have weaker and more brittle bones, meaning they are more prone to fractures.

Our muscle and tendon strength can also decline during menopause, making injury during exercise much more likely. For this reason, it can also take significantly longer to recover from a strenuous hike or a workout in the gym, and many women notice that pain and stiffness last for several days afterwards.

But while these factors can all contribute to aching legs in menopause, perhaps the most common cause is a lack of joint lubrication. This leads to inflammation and pain.

Before menopause, ample levels of estrogen keep our joints well-lubricated. But when that estrogen falls away, lubrication can disappear, too. As a result, inflammation in the hips, knees, and ankles is common.

This can lead to osteoarthritis, a condition which, unsurprisingly, affects more women than men.

Other Causes of Aching Legs

As we’ve discovered, hormonal shifts during menopause can cause aching sensations in the legs. However, several other potential factors can contribute to these aches and pains, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Circulatory issues
  • Incorrect posture
  • Trapped nerves
  • Varicose veins
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes

If you’re experiencing persistent pain in one or both of your legs, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They can help to identify the root cause, rule out any underlying conditions, and find a treatment plan that works for you.

What Symptoms Accompany Aching Legs During Menopause?

What Symptoms Accompany Aching Legs During Menopause

Aching legs can sometimes be accompanied by additional symptoms, such as:

  • Pain and stiffness in the joints, particularly in the hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Redness, tenderness, and warmth of the skin surrounding the affected area.
  • Swelling of the affected area.
  • Limited range of movement.

Some women notice that their symptoms worsen at night, whereas others are affected mainly by aches and pains first thing in the morning or during the day.

When I first noticed my own leg pain, I kept a diary of my symptoms and the times they occurred. I recommend you do this too, as it will help you to recognise any patterns and assist your doctor in finding an accurate diagnosis.

How Can I Find Relief from Aching Legs During Menopause?

How Can I Find Relief from Aching Legs During Menopause

If you’re a woman going through menopause and you’re suffering from aching legs, the best course of action is to speak to your doctor.

But alongside proper medical treatment, there are several things that you can also try at home. Here are some simple interventions that have worked for me and my patients.

1. Exercise

Exercise might be the last thing you want to do when leg pain and stiffness strikes. But keeping your body moving can help to reduce pain and maintain your full range of movement.

However, it’s important to pick the right sort of exercise to avoid injury. Stretching is particularly beneficial, as are low-impact activities such as yoga, pilates, and my personal favorite, swimming.

Strengthening exercises can also help to minimise joint pain and make everyday activities, such as walking, sitting, or sleeping, more comfortable. There are plenty of strength training exercise routines available online. However, if possible, visit a physiotherapist for an in-person appointment. They will give you a tailor-made exercise plan that, with dedication, can help to reduce leg pain or even get rid of it completely.

2. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Inflammatory foods, such as sugar, refined carbs, and trans fats, all trigger inflammation, leading to aching and stiffness in the legs. But by cutting these foods out and eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables and high-quality protein, you can undo some of the damage already done and reduce inflammation and pain.

Omega 3s found in oily fish like sardines and mackerel are particularly beneficial for reducing pain and stiffness in the limbs. Not only do these foods help lower inflammation on a molecular level, but they’re also packed with protein to help build stronger muscles.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration can cause unpleasant symptoms, including pain and stiffness in the joints and muscles. This is partly due to the cartilage that surrounds your joints. Without sufficient water, this cartilage can become weak and damaged, leading to long-term chronic pain.

So, be sure to drink plenty of water. Current guidelines suggest women should drink at least 9 cups of water daily.

4. Hot and Cold Therapy

Both hot and cold therapy can help to reduce aches, pains, and stiffness in the muscles and joints of the leg.

Cold therapy works by constricting the blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the affected area. Heat therapy works oppositely by dilating the blood vessels and allowing more blood flow. Both can help to significantly soothe pain and inflammation in the legs.

When I was suffering from leg pain in the mornings, I found that taking a hot bath before work really helped to relieve the pain, and feel more comfortable throughout the day.

5. Take Magnesium

A magnesium deficiency can make muscle and joint pains worse, or even cause them in the first place[2].

I regularly see patients who are lacking in magnesium, and as a result, they’ve been suffering unnecessary pain.

So, it’s important to make sure that your body has an adequate supply of this vital nutrient to stay strong and pain-free.

Foods that contain magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds. However, many women find it difficult to get the required levels they need through diet alone. So, taking a high-quality daily magnesium supplement can help.

6. Lose Weight

Women who carry extra weight tend to have more severe menopause symptoms than those who don’t. This includes pain and stiffness in the legs.

Being overweight or obese also puts additional strain on the joints in the legs, particularly the hips and knees. So, losing a few lbs can make a big difference to your mobility and pain levels.

7. Over-the-Counter Medication

If diet and lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to relieve the discomfort of aching legs during menopause. In that case, you might want to try over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

These medicines can temporarily relieve the pain and discomfort of aching legs. However, they come with potential side effects and are not designed to be used as a long-term solution.

How common are menopausal leg pain and muscle aches?

A study conducted on 729 women showed that approximately 68.6% of the participants experienced discomfort in their muscles and joints. Most women experience joint pain in their neck, elbows, wrists, shoulders, and jaws. Leg pain isn’t uncommon, either. I was going through some findings on a UK-based website, which mentions that around 40% of women in the United Kingdom who have reached the perimenopausal or menopausal age experience leg pain and other musculoskeletal disorders due to hormonal imbalances.

Leg aches were quite familiar with me, mainly after my 40s. At times, it would elevate to the extent that I would experience muscle stiffness and even have trouble moving around. Walking and strength training exercises came to my rescue. Most patients aged 40 and above who come to me often complain of being troubled with the regular bouts of aches and pains. I have always advised them to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a proper diet and adequate workout.

When To Seek Medical Attention

Aching legs during menopause can feel like normal, but there are times when that dull ache turns into something more, and it’s important to know when to call for medical help.

While some leg pain is common during menopause, there can be other underlying issues which should be taken care of in the early stages to avoid further complications.

But how to know if your achy legs are caused by menopause or something more serious?

Pain that’s severe or sudden: If your leg pain is intense and comes on suddenly, don’t mess around. This could be a sign of a serious injury or condition.

Pain that’s accompanied by swelling, redness, or warmth: These symptoms can indicate inflammation or infection and need to be checked out by a doctor.

One leg is significantly more painful than the other: This can be DVT, so it’s important to get it checked ASAP.

Pain that’s interfering with your daily life: If your leg pain is so bad that it’s making it difficult to walk, climb stairs, or go about your normal activities, see a doctor.

Unexplained fever or chills: These symptoms, along with leg pain, could indicate a serious infection.

If something feels off, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can get treatment. This is especially important for conditions like DVT, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Many other things can cause leg pain, not just menopause. Your doctor can help you determine the cause and get you the treatment you need. Even if it turns out your leg pain is nothing serious, getting a report of normal health gives your mind peace.

My aunt was attending her pilates class when a searing pain shot through her calf. She thought she had pulled a muscle, but when the pain lingered and a redness developed, she called the doctor right away.

It turned out to be a minor case of cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection. Early diagnosis and antibiotics helped. This is the reason it is necessary to seek medical attention.

Always remember doctors are there to help you, and they would much rather see you for a minor issue than wait until something becomes more serious.


Will I find relief from aching legs after menopause?

The answer depends on the root cause of the pain.
Some women find relief once they enter post-menopause and their hormones settle down. However, for many people, including those with osteoarthritis, aching legs are an ongoing problem that stays with them after their menopausal transition is complete.

Can hormone replacement therapy (HRT) help to relieve the symptoms of aching legs during menopause?

Potentially, yes. However, HRT isn’t usually prescribed exclusively for leg pain. That’s because there are many different potential causes for aching legs during menopause, and simply correcting the hormonal imbalance may not be enough to fix the issue.
Plus, HRT carries the risk of potentially serious side effects, so it’s not suitable for everyone.

How can I tell the difference between menopause-related leg pain and another medical condition?

The only way to determine the root cause of aching legs with certainty is to speak to your doctor. There are several conditions with overlapping symptoms, and without proper assessment, there’s no way to know what is causing your aching legs.
So, if you’re suffering, book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Is all leg pain during menopause normal?

A significant number of women experience achy legs during menopause. But sudden, severe pain, redness, swelling, or pain in one leg more than the other could signal a serious issue and require a doctor’s visit.

Besides menopause, what else could be causing my leg pain?

Dehydration, inactivity, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to leg pain. If your pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms like redness or fever, see a doctor to rule out other causes.

Are there things I can do at home to manage achy leg pain during menopause?

Absolutely! While some women find relief with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after consulting their doctor, there are home remedies you can try, too. Gentle exercise like walking or swimming can improve circulation and reduce stiffness.

Applying heat, stretching regularly, and staying hydrated can also help. Supplements like magnesium or fish oil may also offer relief but talk to your doctor first to ensure they’re right for you.


Aching legs during menopause is uncomfortable at best and downright debilitating at its worst. This type of pain can keep you up at night and stop you from doing the things you love during the day.

Some women, myself included, are even forced to give up certain types of exercise, such as running, to avoid further damage to their muscles and joints.

But thankfully, there are some ways to find relief. Making simple lifestyle changes can dramatically improve the pain of aching legs during menopause.

So, if you’ve been suffering from pain and stiffness, try the suggestions in this post and see how they work for you.


  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.

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