Will Pregnancy Affect My Arthritis?
The joints and muscles may be affected by the physical changes that occur during pregnancy. Problems with weight-bearing joints (hips, knees, ankles, and feet) may become worse due to increased weight. Muscle spasms in the back may occur because as the uterus grows, the spine curves slightly to support it. This can also sometimes cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the legs.
If there is any problem with pericarditis, inflammation of the sac around the heart, or with myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, pregnancy would further complicate the problem. Blood flow through the body is increased during pregnancy so it is important that the heart is functioning normally.
Arthritis Medications and Pregnancy
It would be best to be off all medications during pregnancy. This is not always possible, however. If medication must be continued, some medications are considered more safe than others. Aspirin has been used by many women during pregnancy without any damage to the fetus. Gold and prednisone also have been used during pregnancy, but should be avoided if possible. Immunosuppressive drugs should not even be considered during pregnancy.
Whether or not to continue or stop medications is a decision to be made with the advice of a physician. Some medications can be stopped abruptly but a flare-up may result from their discontinued use.
All points of concern should be brought into open discussion between husband and wife, doctor, obstetrician, and rheumatologist. In most cases, pregnancy should not be a problem at all, especially if the disease is mild.
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- The Impact of Chronic Arthritis on Family
- The Patient-Physician Encounter
Know what arthritis medication you take (including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and dietary supplements): is safe for you to continue taking.
Exercise to keep muscles strong and joints flexible.
Diet / Nutrition
Eat a balanced diet and maintain good nutrition.
Learn ways to protect joints from stress and strain.
Adopt stress management techniques.
Coping With Rheumatoid Arthritis, Robert H. Phillips, Ph.D.
Pregnancy Prognosis, Mary Anne Dunkin, Arthritis Today.
Pregnancy and Arthritis, University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
NIH Publications No. 03-4178 and 04-4179