Pregnancy and Chronic Pain Management

Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain

Pain is no fun at any time. Acute pain that comes on suddenly in response to an injury is usually treatable and subsides relatively quickly. But chronic pain is another story. Chronic pain is defined as an unpleasant sense of discomfort that persists or progresses over a long period of time and is often resistant to medical treatments. Women who suffer with chronic pain, whether pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, must consider chronic pain management as part of the experience. Chronic pain treatment is something that should be discussed with the doctor to determine how best to manage the pregnancy, labor and delivery as well as post-pregnancy stresses on the body.

Arthritic Pain and Pregnancy

There are several common sources of chronic pain and chronic pain statistics are available for the various diseases that cause the problems. According to Arthritis Care, 70-80% of pregnant women with arthritis find that pregnancy relieves their symptoms. After the birth of the baby, the arthritis tends to come back. Women who have ankylosing spondylitis have reported that pregnancy does not make a difference to their chronic pain symptoms, while women with osteoarthritis of the knee and hip reported that their chronic pain symptoms become worse with pregnancy.

Oh, My Aching Back

Nearly 80% of all women who become pregnant experience some form of back pain, whether they have suffered with it in the past or not - it just comes with the territory it seems. Chronic back pain can linger throughout the pregnancy and afterward. If the woman has a c-section, there is the likelihood that chronic back pain will be a companion for several weeks or months until the muscles in both the back and belly become stronger. There are a number of devices and aids to relieve back pain, such as pelvic belts that support the belly, exercise, heat, stretching and chiropractic. However, if the back pain is severe, then it could signal a more significant problem which should be addressed by the health care professional.

Fibromyalgia Pain Management

Fibromyalgia is one of the more familiar conditions that generates chronic pain symptoms. Women who are pregnant find that their symptoms may abate or they may increase, there is no rhyme or reason to it. Each woman is different and experiences the discomfort differently. Even though fibromyalgia itself is not considered to be a risk factor for the baby, a woman who is using chronic pain treatment to manage fibromyalgia will want to discuss options with her health care provider and pain specialist in order to wean herself from the medications either before she becomes pregnant or immediately after becoming pregnant.

Chronic Pelvic and Joint Pain Management

Some level of pelvic pain is common during pregnancy in most women, and like back pain, it comes with pregnancy. If there are new symptoms of pelvic pain, if there is acute pain or if chronic pain symptoms worsen, a call to the obstetrician should be made immediately. There are not many treatment options for pelvic pain, but there are things that can be done to help manage the chronic pain. Weight control, pelvic and back strengthening exercises, pelvic belts and supportive footwear are all helpful in addressing chronic pain symptoms in the pelvis.

Joint pain can be a chronic condition for women before they become pregnant, although, once again, most women will experience some form of joint pain during their pregnancy. As the body adjusts, hormones change, and weight is gained, the joints can become painful. Severe joint pain requires a doctor's attention. If the pain is chronic, consulting with the doctor will give clarity to the best ways to address the pain. Massage, ice pack, acetaminophen and warm baths are just some of the low-risk methods of dealing with chronic pain symptoms in the joints during pregnancy.

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