Postpartum Arthritis: Causes & Tips to Manage

Arthritis After Pregnancy – Causes and Tips to Manage

Post-pregnancy, a woman may experience pain in her limbs and joints. If you are a new mother and are experiencing pain in your joints, chances are that you may have postpartum arthritis. A woman’s body goes through a lot of changes during and after pregnancy and experiencing pain in the joints after you have delivered the baby may probably leave you teary-eyed and frustrated. However, arthritis is a disease that can be treated. Read this article to find out why some women may have arthritis after pregnancy and how you can manage arthritis pain.

What Is Arthritis?

The pain in the joints is usually referred to as arthritis. However, it covers a wide range of medical conditions. There are approximately 100 or even more rheumatoid conditions that are known to cause pain in the bones and significantly affect connective tissues. The typical symptoms of arthritis are pain and stiffness in the joints. In some people, arthritis develops all of a sudden while in others it is usually a gradual process. Both adults and children are susceptible to arthritis.

Is It Common After Pregnancy?

Arthritis is common in people of all ages, but it may aggravate after pregnancy. Some women even have postpartum joint disorders that cause pain in their wrists, hands, ankles, and feet.

What Are the Causes of Arthritis After Delivery?

It is very common for women to experience arthritis pain post pregnancy. Following are the reasons why women may have arthritis post delivery.

  • Women who had arthritis before pregnancy may get relief from it during their pregnancy phase. It is because their immune system may get switched off during the pregnancy period and the symptoms of arthritis may disappear. However, post delivery, these symptoms may appear again.
  • Usually, after pregnancy, a woman’s immune system becomes overactive. It increases the risk of contracting auto-immune diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of them. During this period the hyperactive immune system may send signals of attacking things or certain foods that are not harmful. This whole process can trigger a lot of allergies in the body, and some of you may experience inflammation as well. This inflammation can potentially damage your bones and other tissues.
  • You can also have arthritis during pregnancy period due to obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, infections, occupation, and diet deficiencies.

How Long Does Arthritis Last After Delivery?

Arthritis can generally occur during pregnancy and last for several weeks to months post-delivery. This is because the hormone relaxin released during pregnancy to help the joints loosen and the pelvis expand for childbirth can stay in the mother’s body for up to six weeks post-delivery.

Does Arthritis After Delivery Go Away By Its Own?

It is recommended to consult with your doctor and check if you need to continue with arthritis medication post-delivery.

How to Manage Arthritis After Delivery

Taking care of a newborn while dealing with bodily pains can be a trying task for a mother. Arthritis can affect anyone irrespective of their age. Pregnant women are more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis, and those with postnatal arthritis suffer more as they are still recovering from childbirth. Here are some tips that can help you cope up with arthritis post delivery:

  • If you suffer from specific types of arthritis before pregnancy, like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, etc., you should keep your doctors informed about these conditions. It will help the doctor formulate a specific plan for you to manage your postpartum arthritis. Some of the medicines that are suggested for arthritis may not be safe when you are in your breastfeeding phase. Talk to your doctor and let him know that you are lactating. He would provide you with medicines which are most suitable for your condition.
  • If you are experiencing joint pain, you must make changes in your diet to minimise the symptoms of arthritis. Post-pregnancy, your immune system would make your body react to certain environments and foods in a very different manner. Identifying these triggers is the key to getting relief from arthritis. Talk to your dietician and doctor and try to follow a postpartum diet plan that will help you manage arthritis effectively. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help you cope up with arthritis. It is seen that eliminating certain food items like wheat, rye, pork, and beef can provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis after the baby is born.
  • If you have been overweight or suffer from either diabetes or hypertension or both, then you are at a heightened risk of developing arthritis. Managing postpartum arthritis begins as early as planning for a pregnancy. Talk to your doctor and make sure you have a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy. If you have already delivered, take measures to lose your pregnancy weight gradually and through a mix of healthy diet and exercises. Excess weight can put greater pressure on your joints. So, maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy.
  • You should avoid wearing heels after delivery and go for some comfortable shoes in the correct size. Ensure the sole of the shoes is soft and provides enough cushioning.
  • Exercising can help to strengthen the muscles around your joints and improve the range of motion. Start slow and build up gradually.
  • Use can apply heat or cold to the affected joint to reduce pain and inflammation. Try using a heating pad or ice pack for around 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • You can use OTC pain relievers to relieve pain and inflammation. But do mention it to your doctor.

FAQs  

1. Is It Possible to Get Rheumatoid Postpartum Arthritis After Delivery?  

Studies have shown that in rare cases, some women develop rheumatoid arthritis post-pregnancy. In this, the immune system attacks healthy joint tissues, resulting in acute joint pain after pregnancy.  

2. Does Breastfeeding Make Rheumatoid Arthritis Difficult?  

Some studies indicate that breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis developing in later life for both mother and baby. But nothing can be said about breastfeeding worsening the existing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, resulting in postpartum joint pain, for most mothers.  

Once you have a baby, your life could change completely. Taking care of the baby and dealing with postpartum arthritis can be difficult. But knowing about this condition can make it easier for you to manage the symptoms of arthritis. A healthy diet is a significant factor that can help in lowering the threat of developing postpartum arthritis.

References/Resources:

1. Arthritis Diagnosis; hopkinsmedicine.org; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/arthritis-diagnosis

2. Rheumatoid arthritis & pregnancy; nras.org.uk; https://nras.org.uk/resource/rheumatoid-arthritis-pregnancy/

3. 5 Ways to Manage Arthritis; cdc.gov; https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/management.htm

4. What Are Common Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease?; hopkinsmedicine.org; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-are-common-symptoms-of-autoimmune-disease

5. Sana Qureshi, Mahsa Kanzali, Syed Farhan Rizvi, et.al; New diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis during the third trimester of pregnancy; National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5373281/

Also Read:

What Causes Joint Pain after Delivery
Ways to Prevent Back Pain after Pregnancy
How to Recover from Pain after Childbirth

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