Postpartum Joint Pain… 18 Months Later
The fact that so many people are needing to read about my postpartum joint pain breaks my heart. However, the fact I can help provide support, sanity and potentially guide those suffering with inflammatory joint pain after pregnancy mitigates the heartbreak just a bit. I very clearly recall the flood of feelings that plagued me after realizing what had happened to me 6 weeks after I gave birth to my second little girl. I felt helpless, lost and scared. Most of all, the hypochondriac in me caused me to dive into a complete panic and become morbidly obsessed with researching everything under the sun about rheumatoid arthritis, postpartum joint pain, inflammatory joint pain and autoimmunity.
While I still struggle with the fact that rheumatoid arthritis is just a label for some root cause that I still can’t find, I have accepted the fact that my life has forever been changed. Every person on this planet struggles with something. Each and everyone of us will face a huge obstacle/s in life. For some it’s depression and anxiety. Others forever struggle with body image. Some have significant relational issues. Me? I struggle with daily joint swelling, tightness and pain. But you know what? I’m okay. I’m thriving and am choosing to look at the opportunity in the challenge. Through of this struggle, I even wrote a book! (Interested? It’s called The Attitude Antidote: A 21-Day Devotional!) And this would have not been possible without my spiritual life blossoming. Getting in touch with this side of you is more than vital in becoming a complete and happy version of who you are.
So many of you have emailed me, asking how I am doing now, what other things I’ve tried, and so on. So this post is meant to update you on the ins and outs of what’s going on in the life of this 33-year old gal with the daily joint pain (that my last nurse said I’m too young to experience… right…)
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links.
Postpartum Joint Pain
Regarding my level of pain: it is livable compared to how it came on. Out of 10, I would say the pain is a 5 in the morning. (I have a very high tolerance… voluntarily endured a natural birth over here!) Thankfully, I typically have no more resting pain, as in the beginning, just sitting on the couch doing nothing would make my arms throb and go numb.
Each morning I awake with moderate to severe stiffness that dissipates within an hour. My fingers and wrists are the worst, followed by my knees and elbows. Praise God, the pain and stiffness are totally gone from my jaw, neck, back, and everywhere else. Some days are worse than others, seeming with no rhyme or reason other than my cycle. Mornings are always the worst. I’ve learned to lift my toddler out of her crib with my arm strength as opposed to my hand and finger strength… one of many daily adjustments that have now become, “life”. Diaper changes with a kid who tries her best to toss and turn out of them are probably the worst morning activity I endure!
As a dietitian, I’ve always had a very healthy relationship with food. Unfortunately, I tried so many extremely strict diets that I literally felt as if I had a mental breakdown. It’s so overwhelming, as some people have found positive results with the Patterson Program, while some find relief with the Autoimmune Paleo route. I took it a step further and tested for my own food sensitivities, went on a crazy strict diet – all without avail. I was scared to eat. I was identifying foods as “bad” so after that, I knew that I needed to give up a bit on the diets, as it was causing me even more pain, mentally.
According to research, the diets that have been noted to help reduce swelling and disease activity the most are ones that focus on eliminating or limiting animal foods (vegan/vegetarian).
Since I already ate quite healthy, I decided to make changes that I could stick with. For about seven months, I avoided gluten, upped the organic produce, significantly cut grains and continued on with my typical Mediterrian-type diet. Nine months after my breakdown, I felt okay to begin experimenting with food again.
Today, I am juicing 16 oz. celery juice prior to my coffee in the morning. Why? After reading The Medical Medium I decided to give it a try. The author claims it will help to restore acid levels in the stomach to improve digestion and absorption, in turn helping to heal the gut. I am also trying to limit meats and dairy along with remaining gluten-free.
Yoga and Prayer
Yoga, especially in a hot room at least 95F, is critical in managing my pain and preserving my mobility. It is one of the few things I’ve found that has made a huge difference in how I feel.
Daily prayer also continues to be part of my healing regimen. Before when I was in agonizing pain, crying out in hopes of a miracle was the only thing that got me through. I continue to have HOPE that I will be healed one day. That fact still pulls me through. I wrote this detailed prayer to help guide my thoughts: A Prayer for Healing.
Here is a list of some supplements that have passed my test and some newbies that I’m excited to try. I’ve tried MANY supplements in this 18 month period and lots have not stuck, but to be clear, no supplement is going to be a magic cure. They are here to assist in alleviating pain and reduce inflammation.
This anti-iflammatory oil has been found to be effective at reducing morning stiffness for those with RA at 1g/day. A major consituitant of the oil is thymoquinone, which, through research has been shown to be hepatoprotective (protective for the liver), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and an anti-cancer chemical. All in all, it’s a win. I am taking a Tablespoon/day.
High doses of vitamin C “appears to be a safe and effective adjunctive therapy for acute and chronic pain relief”. Not only this, but it has been observed under an early clinical study that the vitamin C requirement for those with rheumatoid arthritis was two to four times higher than the typical individual with a similar diet.
I’ve been taking this since day one. It was recommended to me from my functional med doctor and I tend to agree with his recommendation. I have slightly changed my tune with regards to fish oil… but that’s another topic. So in hopes of balancing my omegas, I am trusting this one. Here’s one article to support.
Turmeric is well-known for being effective in reducing inflammation in RA. So I try to keep some tumeric in my diet daily. If you are too, you’ll love my Ground Turkey Curry which is FULL of turmeric and other health promoting spices. If you haven’t tried golden milk, it’s SO yummy. Even if it’s not effective at helping my arthritis, I’d still drink it!!
Since day one, it’s been obvious that my hormones are to blame here. Every time I try something new, my husband always replies with, “It’s your hormones!” Well, while I do believe that, I’m maneuvering my way through what that means and how to fix it. I know I am low in progesterone and while I do know my fair share about the body, I’m not going to kid myself and think I’m an expert in female hormone regulation. So what am I doing? I’ve made an appointment with a gynecologist that was recommended from my compounding pharmacy to discuss my issues and I’ve ordered this supplement (Metagenics is legit!) Hoping this works wonders for me! By the way this is a great read on hormones.
From the recommendation from the above handout on hormones, I’m trying vitex/chaste berry to address my low progesterone. This article is awesome at explaining how it works and how to take it. “It works at the level of the brain to decrease prolactin levels, increase progesterone levels, and bind opiate receptors — which might be how it improves anxiety, food cravings, physical discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).” If this lil’ supplement does all this…sign me up! I’ll do a little update once I have an opinion on it!
Essential Oils (Internal)
Currently, I take Oregano, Frankincense, Myrrh, a Cellular Complex, and Grapefruit. I make a pill once a day (out of empty gel capsules) that either includes 1 drop of Myrrh, 4 drops Oregano, 2 drops of Grapefruit or 4 drops Cellular Complex and 3 drops Oregano. The rest of the room in the pill is filled with olive oil. Frankincense I take 3 drops under the tongue.
Be certain you only take oils that are safe for internal use. Please contact me if you want more information on the brand I take.
Alternative Therapy for Joint Pain
Low Dose Naltrexone
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist meant to prevent relapse in alcoholics, usually prescribed at upwards of 50 mg. However, at a much lower dose of 4 – 4.5 mg daily, it has been shown to improve pain in fibromyalgia, GI symptoms in Crohn’s, and quality of life in MS (autoimmune conditions). Now they are looking into using it for RA. This is the phase 2 clinical trial for arthritis pain relief.
How does it work? “Preclinical evidence indicates overwhelmingly that opioids alter the development, differentiation, and function of immune cells, and that both innate and adaptive systems are affected.” The LDN is taken at night before bed. The drug breifly blocks the body’s opioid receptors between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.. This is “believed to produce a prolonged up-regulation of vital elements of the immune system by causing an increase in endorphin and enkephalin production.” This website explains all about LDN, how it works, how to dose and much more.
This is a documented positive experience from a gal who tried LDN.
LDN is said to have minimal side effects, so it’s been on my radar from the beginning. Just recently, I got a prescription from my rheumatologist. It needs to be filled at a compounding pharmacy; regular CVS-type pharmacies will not fill it. The only side-effect could be sleep disturbances, so beginning at a lower dose could mitigate that. My doctor prescribed me to begin at 1.5 mg/day for 4 weeks, increasing each month to 3 mg/day.
I will update how I am doing when it gets going! Hopefully I have some good news!
I wish you ALL THE BEST!
THE INFORMATION PROVIDED DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. All content information is intended to be for general informational purposes only. Please see your doctor with regard to information attained from the above article if you are concerned with the health of your child. The content above is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. NEVER NEGLECT YOUR DOCTOR’S PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ.
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