There is no question about it that hormonal change during and after pregnancy can leave most women feeling like a completely different person. Often times, women are left wondering “will I ever feel like myself again?” While for many women, the answer is quite simply yes – in time. For some women, however, the hormonal changes and joint movement that occurs naturally during and after pregnancy can leave a painful condition known as secondary osteoarthritis.
While the true cause of osteoarthritis is debatable, the causes of secondary osteoarthritis can result from many things. These can include injury, genetic disposition, nutritional deficiency, and of course – pregnancy. Relative to most other areas that tend to be affected by osteoarthritis, the hips in child-bearing women are among the most effected by secondary osteoarthritis.
Certain hormonal changes allow women’s bodies to adjust to the growing demand of both pregnancy and childbirth. One of the most notable changes is the production of relaxin, a hormone that increases the mobility or movement of joints within the body. This hormone is vital to pregnancy because it allows the hips to spread and move to prepare for childbirth. While its biological design during pregnancy is to increase the width of the hips, relaxing can also affect other often used joints such as wrists, elbows, and knees. This excess mobility in the joints is usually the culprit behind occasional pregnancy clumsiness.
In some occasions, especially if a woman was predisposed to any type of arthritis or has had a previous injury, the production of relaxin can greatly increase the risk of developing secondary osteoarthritis. Once the joints begin to be affected by relaxin, in many cases the joints do not react the same after the pregnancy has ended. Inflammation, discomfort, and displacement can commonly result after pregnancy thus aggravating a form of osteoarthritis that was otherwise undisturbed.
Essentially, it is important to try to incorporate joint health for any woman that is thinking about pregnancy, pregnant, or post-pregnancy. Always allowing the body to rest if joints and muscles feel tired and supplementing with as much activity as can be tolerated can also help with secondary osteoarthritis. Having strong diets that include calcium and vitamins E, D, and C can also help reduce the risks of developing secondary osteoarthritis during pregnancy.
While most women rarely feel “normal” after pregnancy, developing osteoarthritis can make a woman feel like someone that she never was before. This condition can be painful and debilitating – not to mention a little bit inconvenient with a new baby. Trying to maintain a proper diet before, during, and after pregnancy along with basic fitness can help to avoid or treat secondary osteoarthritis.