Expert Talk: How To Manage Arthritis During Pregnancy

Arthritis is extremely discomforting for pregnant women. Doctor shares causes, symptoms, risk factors and management tips for the same.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Nov 01, 2022 11:37 IST
Expert Talk: How To Manage Arthritis During Pregnancy

Arthritis affects one percent of adults, with more women than men suffering. Since many women with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) are of childbearing age, prudent family planning is essential, especially for those patients receiving medication or who have active disease. Your ability to become pregnant won't be hampered by arthritis. However, before getting pregnant, consult your doctor if you take arthritis drugs. Some medications might persist in your system for a while after you stop using them, and some can impact your unborn child. OnlyMyHealth reached out to Dr. Nishi Singh, Head of Fertility at Prime IVF to know more about arthritis during pregnancy, here is what she shared:

Pregnancy significantly reduces the disease's severity in many women with arthritis. However, for some women, pregnancy causes their condition to worsen or to remain active. Therefore, changes or alterations in the treatment are recommended to control flares while minimising the risks of RA treatments to the developing foetus.

Symptoms during pregnancy

Since arthritis affects all of the body's joints, being pregnant can add weight, making pain and discomfort worse.

  • The knees may be a particular area where this is felt.
  • Muscle spasms or limb numbness may result from increased pressure on the spine.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or stiffness in the hips, knees, ankles and feet could be brought on by excess water weight. Usually, these signs disappear once the baby is born.
  • Women with the autoimmune condition arthritis may feel more worn out.

Treating arthritis during pregnancy

How To Manage Arthritis During Pregnancy

Medications

Consult your doctor before using any drugs for arthritis while pregnant. Mention any prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies, and nutritional supplements you use. While some can harm your infant, others are fine to keep using. However, until the baby is born, your doctor might be able to alter your drugs or change the dosage. In addition, you should let your doctor know if you intend to breastfeed.

Diet and Exercise

Eating can be challenging at times when arthritic symptoms like dry mouth and trouble swallowing develop. However, healthy eating is crucial for those with arthritis and the growth of your unborn child. You'll probably be taking prenatal supplements, but you should talk to your doctor if you have any issues eating.

While pregnant, you should keep up your fitness routine. Include activities to help you maintain your muscle strength and range-of-motion exercises to increase flexibility. For those with arthritis, walking and swimming are particularly beneficial. Your doctor should determine a safe fitness programme for your infant.

Also Read: 6 Food And Drinks To Avoid For Arthritis Patients

Pain relief tips

Use the following advice to reduce joint pain and stiffness:

Manage Arthritis During Pregnancy

  • On your joints, apply hot and cold compresses.
  • Give your joints regular rest.
  • To reduce stress on your knees and ankles, raise your feet.
  • Make time for a restful night's sleep.
  • Attempt deep breathing or other calming exercises.
  • Be mindful of your posture because it can put stress on your joints.
  • Do not wear high heels. Select supportive footwear that is comfy.

Risk Factors for arthritis during pregnancy

According to one study, RA raises the risk of preeclampsia. Pregnant women who develop preeclampsia may also experience high blood pressure and too much protein in their urine. This syndrome can significantly rarely develop postpartum. The mother and the child may risk dying due to this disease.

The same study also demonstrates that RA-affected women have a higher risk of developing additional issues than RA-free women. Hazards include giving birth to infants who are underweight or smaller than typical.

Birth and Labour

In general, labour and delivery aren't any harder for women with arthritis than for other women. However, caesarean deliveries are more common among RA-affected women.

Talk to your doctor before going into labour if you experience a lot of pain or discomfort from arthritis so that preparations can be done. For example, you might not want to lie on your back if you have back pain from arthritis. Your doctor can offer advice on selecting a secure alternative position.

Postpartum Arthritis

Within a few weeks of giving birth, some women develop an arthritic flare-up. So talk to your doctor about starting your arthritis medication again if you stopped taking it while pregnant.

Exercises for increasing your range of motion and strengthening your muscles should still be possible for you to do. However, before starting a more demanding workout programme, see your doctor.

If you intend to breastfeed, tell your doctor. Some drugs can harm your baby if they are transferred through breast milk.

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