Arthritis affects millions of people around the globe. Due to joint pain experienced by the affected person, the mobility and flexibility are significantly reduced which also impairs the quality of life. However, what to do when you’re pregnant and suffer from some type of arthritis? To make your life easier and to help you move more easily to improve your and your baby’s health, this article will list different ways of coping with arthritis during this special time of your life.
Arthritis during pregnancy
First, it’s important to bear in mind that while most women experience joint pain during pregnancy, not all of them have arthritis at the same time. Joint pain can occur due to weight gain and larger pressure on woman’s joints.
When it comes to arthritis, not all women experience it the same way throughout pregnancy week by week. For example, women who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (one of more than 100 types of arthritis) often report that their symptoms and pain they usually experience vanish during the pregnancy. According to scientists, this happens because pregnancy might dampen the immune system to prevent woman’s body from considering the baby as an “invader”. This means that immune system doesn’t work as actively as before pregnancy thus decreasing inflammation and pain. However, not all women are this lucky. According to WebMD about 40% to 50% pregnant women with rheumatoid arthritis require some sort of treatment either through medication or through therapies.
Symptoms of arthritis during pregnancy
Women with arthritis usually notice how their joint pain aggravates during pregnancy. This happens due to weight and usually affects knees and hips. Although women experience signs and symptoms of arthritis during pregnancy in different intensity, in most cases they include:
- Looser and unstable joints – this might also cause the “waddle” when a woman walks even if she doesn’t gain too much weight
- Knee problems aggravate due to increased weight and because muscles along the side of the knee weaken. This causes knee pain, particularly when walking up or down the stairs
- Spine curves slightly to support uterus growth which can lead to muscle spasms in the back. In some cases, this can also lead to numbness and tingling sensation in legs
- Joint stiffness increases due to water weight gain, particularly in weight-bearing joints. Water weight can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome
- Increased fatigue.
Now that you know how arthritis during pregnancy is expressed it’s time to see different ways you can alleviate the pain you experience and improve the quality of life to improve the well being of yourself and your child.
To alleviate joint pain associated with arthritis, doctors usually recommend painkillers. However, when you’re pregnant, before you start taking medications, you should consult your healthcare provider and make sure he or she recommends some that won’t harm your baby.
If you’re taking drugs for some other condition, you should mention it to your doctor because some medications can interfere with the effects of others.
Pregnancy involves healthy diet as the ideal way of supplying your baby with healthy nutrient he or she needs to develop properly. Furthermore, there are many healthy foods that are able to relieve symptoms of arthritis joint pain such as:
- Omega 3 fatty acids – They prevent inflammation in the body and reduce symptoms of arthritis. Also, regular intake of Omega 3’s is necessary for baby’s brain development and overall health. Good sources of Omega 3’s are salmon and seafood (just make sure they don’t have high levels of mercury) as well as walnuts etc.
- Broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies – Protect your joints from inflammation and arthritis.
- Vitamin D – Decreases progress of arthritis
- Olive oil – Reduces pain and joint stiffness
- Ginger – Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which protect your joints
- Vitamin C – Powerful antioxidant.
Physical activity is important throughout your pregnancy. It improves your overall health and prepares your joints for delivery. There are many gym classes for pregnant women that you can sign up to, or you can simply perform some low impact exercises at home. The Even 20-minute walk will do wonders for flexibility of your joints.
4. Pain relief tips
Experiencing joint pain is never easy, particularly when you’re pregnant and already deal with wide array of pregnancy symptoms. Below, you can see some useful tips to relieve instantly joint pain and stiffness:
- Apply hot compresses to affected areas to relieve stiffness
- Apply ice packs to relieve pain in affected joint
- Rest often, but try not to spend entire day in bed as prolonged inactivity can aggravate the pain
- Take a few slow and deep breaths or some other relaxation techniques
- Pay attention to your posture because poor posture can form additional stress to your joints and only aggravate the pain
- Avoid high heels. First, they don’t support your joints. Second, since your feet are getting swollen during pregnancy, wearing high heels isn’t the best idea for blood flow.
5. Get support from loved ones
Since experiencing joint pain can limit your mobility, the best thing you can do is to surround yourself with people who love you and support you. When you feel like you can’t perform certain tasks, go to the store or run some errands, you can always turn to your spouse, family and friends.
Ideally, you should feel free to have an honest conversation with your loved ones, particularly your husband. Communication is the key and he can always step up when you need help.
6. Motivating yourself
Here are some tips that you can use to motivate yourself and improve mental strength to deal with arthritis during pregnancy:
- Remind yourself that joint pain you experience will be worth it when you finally get to meet your bundle of joy
- Remind yourself that although your disease is active, so is your entire body with creating life, and nothing can beat that
- Bear in mind that your disease won’t limit you unless you let it
- Be aware that your husband also has a difficult time adjusting to the situation which is why he needs support as well. Here, supporting each other is the greatest motivation you need.
During pregnancy, joint pain can worsen due to the fact that weight gain forms a larger pressure on arthritis-affected joints. There are many ways you can cope with arthritis and they primarily include healthy lifestyle. Before you start taking medications, you should consult your doctor to make sure they won’t harm your baby.