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Newborn and Infant Care

Joint pain in hands and feet after pregnancy

02/03/1997

Question:

I gave birth to my first child four months ago. Approximately two months ago, my hands and feet began to be very stiff in the morning. The other day my hands became signigicantly worse. The thumb on my right hand will now only bend slightly at the top joint and I can put little pressure on either thumb without experiencing a lot of pain. I called my Ob/Gyn and she recommended an internist/rheumatologist. When I made the appointment, the internest's nurse told me not to worry, my appointment could wait till later this week because this is not uncommom after pregnancy. Is this true? Does it have anything to do with breastfeeding? If it does, will it go away after I stop breastfeeding or will it remain?

Answer:

Joint pain, swelling, warmth and changes in function are a classic symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and require follow up with you health care provider. Some researchers have found an increase incidence of rheumatoid arthritis during the first three months following delivery. This joint stiffness does not seem to be related to breastfeeding. Based on you symptoms it is important for you to follow up with your appointment with the rheumatologist.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati