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Managing Joint Pain Caused By Hormonal Cancer Treatments: The Role of Yoga and Exercise

Gentle Yoga and exercise can make a huge difference to joint comfort

Living with hormonal cancer treatments often comes with its own set of challenges, one of which can be joint pain. Hormonal therapies, designed to manage or treat certain cancers like breast or prostate cancer, can impact the body in various ways, including affecting joint health. In this blog post, we’ll explore why hormonal treatments can lead to joint pain, delve into the anatomy and physiology of our joints, and discuss how yoga and exercise can be beneficial in managing joint discomfort.

Understanding Hormonal Cancer Treatments and Joint Pain

Hormonal therapies are medications that alter hormone levels in the body to prevent cancer cells from growing. While these treatments are crucial for managing cancer, they can also have side effects. Joint pain is a common side effect of hormonal therapies, particularly in women undergoing treatments like aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer. These drugs can lower estrogen levels, which may lead to symptoms similar to arthritis, including stiffness and pain in the joints.

Anatomy and Physiology of Joints

To understand why joint pain occurs, let’s first look at how our joints function. Joints are where two or more bones meet and are crucial for movement and flexibility. The ends of our bones are covered with cartilage—a smooth, rubbery tissue that cushions the bones and allows them to glide smoothly against each other. Synovial fluid, a thick liquid within the joint capsule, lubricates and nourishes the cartilage, reducing friction during movement.

Role of Yoga in Joint Pain Management

Yoga is a gentle yet effective way to alleviate joint pain and improve joint health. Through specific poses and movements, yoga helps increase flexibility, strengthen muscles around the joints, and promote better circulation. One of the key benefits of yoga for joint pain is its ability to enhance synovial fluid production. Synovial fluid nourishes the joints and helps maintain their smooth functioning, which is essential for reducing stiffness and discomfort.

Of course surgery and radiation can also cause scar tissue that can affect the free movement of our joints so gentle and progressive mobilasation and stretching is so important. Radiation, for example, can cause arm and shoulder stiffness long after treatment ends.

The Science Behind Exercise and Joint Health

Regular exercise, including low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and yoga, plays a crucial role in maintaining joint health. Exercise helps strengthen muscles, which in turn supports and stabilizes the joints. It also promotes the circulation of synovial fluid, enhancing joint lubrication and reducing friction during movement. Moreover, exercises that promote flexibility, such as yoga, can help maintain and even restore range of motion in affected joints.

Understanding Fascia and Postural Awareness

Fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and organs, providing support and structure to the body. Poor posture (surgery, radiation, fear, pain and being less active can all have a huge impact on how we hold and use our bodies) and lack of movement can lead to fascial restrictions, causing stiffness and contributing to joint pain. Yoga and exercise encourage postural awareness, helping to release tension in the fascia and improve overall alignment. By incorporating mindful movement and stretching into daily routines, individuals can alleviate stress on joints and promote better posture.

Yoga to release the feet, shins and calves, for example, helps release the tension that might be held in our fascia. As we create space between the small joints in our feet, this releases connective tissue that runs up through the body and through the diaphragm (our principal breathing muscle). These small and simple movements can have a huge positive impact on the rest of our body.


In conclusion, managing joint pain during hormonal cancer treatments requires a holistic approach that considers both medical interventions and lifestyle adjustments. Yoga, with its focus on gentle movement, stretching, and mindfulness, can be a valuable tool in alleviating joint discomfort and improving overall well-being. By incorporating yoga and exercise into daily routines, individuals can support joint health, enhance flexibility, and minimize the impact of hormonal therapies on their bodies. It’s important to consult healthcare providers before starting any new exercise regimen, especially during cancer treatments, to ensure safety and effectiveness

Gentle Recovery is here to support you to create your own, unique home exercise and wellness programme which can really help with the management of symptoms such as joint pain.
Gentle Recovery for Breast Cancer is a comprehensive, pre-recorded, expert-led programme supporting you through treatment and in to your rehabilitation.
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With warmest wishes,

India Gooderham

India Gooderham’s background is as a Specialist Physiotherapist working in oncology and palliative care in the UK. She is now working as a Cancer Exercise Specialist and Cancer Yoga teacher and is founder of ‘Gentle Recovery’, an online rehabilitation and wellness platform for people affected by cancer. Her mission is to serve, educate and empower people at any stage of their cancer journey through exercise, yoga and wellness online programmes and 1-2-1 online coaching.

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