Postpartum Knee Pain: An Overview
Expecting a baby and a new life after delivery, every expectant mother has so many expectations. Particularly for first-time mothers, postpartum joint pains are among the least or typically not on their list of expectations.
In light of this, it is critically important to educate yourself on what one should expect after delivery, as most women in the early stages have reported experiencing this, hoping the pain would ease with time but have discovered that in fact, it only gets worse.
Pregnancy and joint pain are two very much interrelated words. Knee pain is a common problem among pregnant women and is often observed after delivery. Weight gain during pregnancy can also lead to back and knee pain to occur during pregnancy, which can continue even after delivery.
Postpartum knee pain is a common occurrence and it can be debilitating. It often occurs in the first few weeks after delivery, but some women may experience it as late as six months post-delivery.
Common Causes of Knee Pain Post Delivery
Knee pain is just one of many changes that can happen to your body during pregnancy. Knee pain is a common condition in pregnancy and postpartum, with pain ranging from mild to restless and debilitating.
The causes of postpartum knee pain are not fully understood, but there are many factors that can contribute to this condition. Following are the few common reasons behind knee pain post-delivery:
1. Hormonal Changes:
The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy cause ligaments to loosen up more than usual and cause pain in the joints. During pregnancy, the body releases estrogen and relaxin hormones, both of which affect a pregnant woman's flexibility and collagen regeneration. These hormones can remain in the bloodstream for up to 6 to 8 months even after the pregnancy.
2. Increased Weight:
Weight gain during pregnancy can also lead to back pain, which can continue even after pregnancy. The baby’s weight keeps increasing throughout the pregnancy and the body tries its best to carry this weight around this causes strain in the body, especially in the knee joint as it is a weight-bearing joint. The body experiences pain as a way to cope with the events.
3. Fluid Retention:
As a result of fluid retention especially in the legs, it is possible for fluid to build up in the joints causing pressure and joint pains.
4. Inflammation of Joints:
Going through a pregnancy induces many changes in your body. From chemical and hormonal changes that go along with becoming pregnant to physical body changes from carrying your baby, these changes will definitely affect your lifestyle. These changes in your body can put extra strain on the joints and muscles of your body. Increases in weight add pressure to your knees and make your joints feel different while walking. Gaining water weight can increase stiffness in feet, hips, knees, and ankles, and can even worsen carpal tunnel syndrome. Physical changes like these, and much more, can cause wear and tear on your joints and bones.
5. Poor Sleep:
Most new moms will stun you with a wry smile or look at you like you're crazy if you ask them how they're sleeping. Because sleep becomes a challenge as every aspect of motherhood is difficult, from breastfeeding to rocking your baby on your tummy until they sleep, and above all deprivation of sleep.
6. Labour Contractions:
Post-delivery aches and pains are really a thing and it is completely normal to be experiencing this. Contractions exert a great deal of strain on your body and the body undergoes an intense amount of strain during labor. It is not uncommon for women to experience pain and aches even after weeks of delivery due to the intense contractions.
7. Poor Postures:
Together with incorrect posture while nursing, bending down to pick up the baby frequently, and not sleeping properly during the night can all cause back and knee pain in combination. Sleeping postures and the surface also play a role in causing knee pains as the strain does not get released.
8. Growth of the Uterus
American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) claims that a growing uterus shifts your center of gravity and also weakens your abdominal muscles as it stretches out.
Home Remedies For Knee Pain After Delivery: Ways To Help You Cope With Joint Pain after Delivery
Labour and delivery can leave you physically exhausted after nine months of preparation and anxiety. When your body is deprived of sleep because of waking at odd hours to feed the baby, it will crave rest. Spend plenty of time cuddling with your baby and bonding with them while giving your body time to rest and heal. Get your family and friends to help with the household chores or with food. Then you'll have more time for yourself to relax.
Following are a few tips and remedies that can be practiced at the ease of your home in order to get rid of knee pain after delivery:
1. Maintaining Healthy Diet
Not surprisingly, pregnancy can cause knee pain, as being overweight is known to cause knee problems. Hence, consuming a healthy diet full of nutrients and essential minerals is very critical for the body. The body needs to compensate for the strain that is caused throughout the pregnancy period and during labor. Hence, strengthening the body is required after delivery.
Post-delivery eating for two is not required anymore however, you need to replenish a lot of important nutrients to your body. Your diet was crucial during the nine months you were pregnant, but after you give birth, you have to take responsibility for your diet.
Moreover, dietary recommendations and a balanced diet with a lot of protein help in recovering your body and provide all the strength and energy your body needs to function. Nursing and caring for the newborn also require energy. Breastfeeding has the added benefit of burning calories while producing breast milk, as well as releasing hormones that help reduce the uterus, making weight reduction slightly simpler. Maintaining a balanced diet and staying hydrated will aid your body in healing and adding strength to your bones and muscles.
2. Exercising and Remaining Physically Active
Exercising after pregnancy has an array of benefits. Nevertheless, before you start an exercise regimen, check with your doctor and follow their advice. To ease the tension and strain buildup in the muscles, you can go for a walk or do simple stretching exercises. You can also try practicing strengthening exercises such as pelvic tilts, and kegel exercises to relieve soreness and pain in the muscles. When incorporating pelvic strengthening exercises, make sure they are gentle.
Quadriceps muscles, which support the knees, can be strengthened by low-impact exercise. Knee ligaments and tendons will be compensated for if these are loose.
3. Online Physiotherapy
Overusing the joints and tendons in your knees can cause them to deteriorate, but on the contrary, moving them less can make them weaker. In addition to reducing pain and swelling, physiotherapy can also improve knee joint function.
Online physiotherapy is a great option for individuals after delivery, as it assists patients in becoming self-independent by enabling them to manage their symptoms on their own in a friendly and comfortable environment. Online sessions are a big advantage for mothers who experience day-to-day difficulties in getting around as they can help to reduce the stress associated with regular trips to the clinic. In order to alleviate pain, physiotherapists instruct their patients to do exercises that engage the muscles in the vicinity of their knee and spine.
Muscles in the pelvic floor support the pelvis, help control the bladder and bowels, and play a role in sexual function. Pregnancy and delivery weaken the pelvic floor. Practicing pelvic floor exercises now and in the future can help prevent problems, such as leaks of urine.
The significant weight gain that comes with pregnancy is not something your body is used to. Because of this, you may experience pain and discomfort in your lower back and knee from carrying extra weight. Physiotherapy has demonstrated effectiveness in treating this kind of pain. As a result, the muscles can be relaxed and relieved of the stress from the extra weight they are carrying.
There is an issue of incontinence that many women have raised postpartum and before they deliver. Women have issues managing their bladder due to alterations in the pelvic floor muscles, which can be uncomfortable and annoying. Surprisingly, physiotherapy can aid in the management of this condition. Individually customised and monitored pelvic floor exercises are the most effective. Physiotherapists that specialise in incontinence and women's health, as well as pelvic floor physiotherapists, can examine your pelvic floor function and provide an exercise programme tailored to your specific needs.
Because these changes take place over such a short amount of time, your body does not have the time to adjust to them comfortably. As a result, pregnant women frequently complain of muscular aches and joint stiffness. Their muscles have been strained, and their joints have stiffened. When it comes to this, physiotherapy is really helpful. It targets and works on specific areas of pain and stiffness. Physiotherapists offer workouts that target certain muscles in order to relieve pain quickly and effectively.
During pregnancy, the majority of women become sedentary and inactive. We understand because even a small bit of movement can bring pain and exhaustion. Physiotherapy, on the other hand, has the exact opposite effect. Patients are required to participate in exercises and activities by physiotherapists in order to keep their bodies active. This has proven to be useful for women during labour since it greatly simplifies the delivery procedure. According to statistics, women who choose physiotherapy have a smoother delivery than women who do not.
Briefly, regular physiotherapy and assessment have proved lesser complications and stress for pregnant women.
4. Use of Supportive Footwear
Footwear with sufficient cushioning and arch support can aid in stress absorption in the knees.
To give your knees a break throughout your last trimester and afterward, you may want to continue with shoes. You'll be carrying your little one around now that they've arrived. Make sure you're wearing supportive footwear that won't put too much strain on your knees or back.
5. Hot Showers
To relieve discomfort, one might use the old-fashioned hot-and-cold method. Using hot water bags or taking a hot water bath in a tub to ease joint discomfort might provide gradual relief. One of the oldest, cheapest, and safest forms of alternative therapy is soaking in warm water or using a hot compress. Heat treatments have been demonstrated to relax tight joints and ease achy muscles in studies. Your blood vessels expand when you warm up a stiff joint or a fatigued muscle. More blood, oxygen, and nutrients are given to the wounded tissues as a result. For those tense muscles and joints, better circulation equals more relaxation.
Hot showers and heat therapy are suggested by physiotherapists as it regains mobility in pregnant women.
6. Cold Compress
Cold packs numb the hurting spot and minimise swelling and inflammation. An ice pack or even a bag of frozen vegetables (easier to wrap around an area like a knee) might assist in numb joint pain-affected regions. Inflammation, which is a primary cause of knee pain and stiffness, can be reduced with cold treatment. Applying a cold compress to a swollen joint can help it shrink back down to its original size, reducing joint discomfort.
Switching between the heat and cold therapy for joint discomfort has advantages. For extremely aching and swollen joints, cold is preferable. It relieves muscular and joint aches and soreness caused by activities or exercise. Both hot and cold treatments have their own set of applications. Heat should never be applied to a joint that is already hot, red, and inflamed, and cold should never be applied to a rigid, non-moving joint. Remember that heat relaxes muscles while cold reduces inflammation and discomfort. Don't switch between hot and cold right away. Allow a few hours between sessions.
7. Correct Posture While Breastfeeding
Make sure your infant is adequately supported when you're nursing so you can spend quality time with him or her without suffering from back and knee pain. Women often focus on only cushioning the back, which causes a hindrance to the alignment of the spine and the knee. Reducing joint strain by correcting postural dysfunction and providing appropriate flexibility and strength around the afflicted joints.
8. Rest and Avoid Unnecessary Strain
Long lengths of time holding your infant on your hip might damage your back muscles and knee joint. Come into a kneeling position or sit entirely without placing all of your weight on your knees while picking up your infant, or get near and then raise the baby up. If joint discomfort is interfering with your everyday activities, don't be afraid to seek assistance. Ensure that your body is getting enough time to rest and heal the injuries and strains.
An expectant mother has one of the best experiences in her life, the complete journey is that of a rollercoaster filled with mixed feelings. You put up with all the changes that pregnancy brings, such as morning sickness, swelling, and aches and pains, as you wait for your baby to arrive. All with the hopes of one day being able to hold your child in your arms. And you believe that once you've welcomed your baby into the world, your body will return to normal. Even after pregnancy, many new mothers experience postpartum knee pain.
All of the aches and sensations you experience after delivery are a natural part of the pregnancy process. In nine months, the body has changed dramatically, with harsh conditions during pregnancy. The discomfort will start to subside and bring you relief once you allow it enough time to heal and strike the correct balance of relaxation and exercise. If your pain worsens or you see changes in your body that you haven't noticed previously, contact your doctor to rule out any postpartum issues and to seek pain management.
Physiotherapy is the safest and most effective option available as physiotherapists propose looking at which joints are under pressure and devising a rehabilitation program tailored to your requirements in addition to posture correction.