After giving birth the journey doesn’t end there. Not only do you have a little bundle of joy to be responsible for, but the pain you had in pregnancy may last even after birth. Joint pain is very common after childbirth. This joint pain can be caused by the hormonal changes in your body, inflammation in the joints, or from the physical demands of childbirth. Sometimes pain will start in pregnancy then carry over into postpartum. Pain can start just after having your baby though as well.
The common joints that can hurt after pregnancy are hips, fingers or knees. The most common of those though is the hips or the pelvis. Your pelvis is made up of your hips, tailbone, and sacrum the bone that is right below the spine. One of the main culprits of pelvic pain after childbirth is Postpartum Pelvic Girdle pain. Pelvic Girdle pain can start during pregnancy. If it lasts after childbirth it usually resolves within four months of giving birth. In cases where you had Pelvic Girdle pain during pregnancy and it carries over into postpartum, pain can last up to two to three years.
Postpartum Pelvic Girdle Pain
Causes of Postpartum Pelvic Girdle pain is hard to know. There are some different things that could be the culprit of the pain. One of those is hormonal changes. Your body increases the amount of Relaxin your body produces during pregnancy. This can cause your body’s hip joints to become too loose. Another cause could be from your core muscles stretching. This stretch in these muscles can cause an inability for the core muscles to stabilize the pelvis. Injury to your pelvic floor muscles or injury to the nerves that innervate your pelvic floor can also cause Postpartum pelvic girdle pain.
Postpartum Pelvic Girdle pain can usually be diagnosed by your doctor with a physical exam and getting a medical history. If you had Pelvic girdle pain during your pregnancy is another sign that you may have it postpartum. Symptoms of Postpartum Pelvic Girdle pain are pain deep in pubic area, pain worsens with activity, radiating pain across lower back, or a popping sound when hips move.
Physical therapy may be best to help strengthen your muscles. Physical therapy can also help reduce pain. Over the counter pain medications can also help relieve some of the pain you may be experiencing. Other tips you can try are sitting in a different position, hot or cold packs on your hips, or use a pillow to help position your hips in a comfortable position when sleeping or sitting.
Hip Labral Tears
Another common cause of hip pain after giving childbirth is hip labral tears. The hip labral protects the padding that covers the femoral head, provides hip stability, provides weight-bearing functions, and eases the forces applied to the hip. Tears can happen because of weight gain from pregnancy, hip joint loosening due to excess Relaxin, changes in posture after delivery, or having a pre-existing condition of the hip or pelvis. The good news about labral tears is they are all treatable. Some don’t even need treatment and will resolve on their own. Others may need over the counter pain medications. Physical therapy can be helpful in strengthening up your muscles to help better support your hips. If the pain is still severe injections of corticosteroids can work. In severe cases where pain doesn’t go away with other treatments surgery may be suggested.
Hip labral tears can feel and be very different from woman to woman. You could feel deep hip groin pain, a constant aching pain, or intermittent episodes of sharp pain. Along with the pain you could experience weakness in your hip muscles, pain that worsens with activity, or locking or catching sensation when you move your hips. Your doctor can do an MRI to see if you have a hip labral tear.
Other causes of hip pain that aren’t as common are pregnancy and lactation-associated osteoporosis, sacral stress fractures, or Piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is the most rare.
Though sometimes it is said that hip pain after pregnancy is normal, keeping track of it and how long it lasts can help diagnose if there is a more serious problem.
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