Arthritis When Pregnant: Managing Pain & Staying Healthy

Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. When you’re pregnant, managing arthritis symptoms can be challenging, but it’s important for both you and your baby’s health to do so. In this section, we’ll provide an overview of Arthritis When Pregnant, discuss the challenges of managing pain, and offer tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Key Takeaways

  • Arthritis during pregnancy can be challenging to manage, but it’s important for both you and your baby’s health to do so
  • Consult with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and to discuss treatment options
  • Physical therapy, exercise, and a healthy diet can help relieve arthritis symptoms during pregnancy
  • Prenatal care and open communication with your healthcare provider are crucial for managing arthritis during pregnancy

Understanding Arthritis During Pregnancy

Arthritis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. When a woman becomes pregnant, the physiological changes that occur in her body can affect arthritis symptoms and potentially lead to new cases of the condition.

arthritis when pregnant

There are different types of arthritis that can occur during pregnancy, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, characterized by the degeneration of joint cartilage over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and stiffness. Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that develops in some people with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition.

Factors that may contribute to the development of arthritis during pregnancy include hormonal changes, weight gain, and physical stress on the joints.

How Pregnancy Affects Arthritis Symptoms

Pregnancy can impact arthritis symptoms in different ways, depending on the type of arthritis and the individual’s unique circumstances. Some women may experience a reduction in arthritis symptoms during pregnancy, while others may experience an increase in symptoms.

For example, women with rheumatoid arthritis may experience a temporary improvement in symptoms during pregnancy due to increased levels of the hormone progesterone, which has anti-inflammatory properties. However, after giving birth, there is a risk of experiencing a flare-up of symptoms known as postpartum rheumatoid arthritis.

In contrast, women with osteoarthritis may experience increased joint pain and stiffness during pregnancy due to the added weight and pressure on their joints.

It’s important to note that every pregnancy and arthritis case is unique, and individuals should consult with their healthcare providers for personalized advice and treatment options.

Diagnosing Arthritis When Pregnant

Diagnosing arthritis when pregnant can be challenging, as many of the symptoms of arthritis can be attributed to typical pregnancy discomforts. Therefore, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect you may have arthritis.

Your healthcare provider will likely begin by taking a thorough medical history and performing a physical exam. They may also order additional tests, such as blood tests or imaging scans, to help confirm a diagnosis.

It’s important to communicate openly with your healthcare provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing. This can help ensure an accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment plan for managing your arthritis during pregnancy.

Managing Arthritis Pain When Pregnant

Being pregnant can be challenging enough without the added difficulties of arthritis pain. However, there are ways to manage the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis while pregnant, ensuring a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Medication Options

Pain medication should always be prescribed and monitored by a healthcare professional, especially during pregnancy. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are typically not recommended during pregnancy. Instead, acetaminophen may be recommended for mild to moderate pain. Talk to your doctor about safe medication options for managing arthritis pain during pregnancy.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be a safe and effective way to manage arthritis pain while pregnant. A physical therapist can design a program tailored to your specific needs, including exercises to improve range of motion, strengthen muscles, and improve posture. They may also recommend heat therapy or other modalities to help alleviate pain.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care may also be helpful in managing arthritis pain during pregnancy. However, it’s important to ensure that any alternative therapies are safe and performed by a licensed healthcare professional with experience working with pregnant women.

Overall, managing arthritis pain during pregnancy requires a well-rounded approach, including medication options, physical therapy, and alternative therapies under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Exercise and Physical Activity for Arthritis Relief

Staying active can be a key tool in managing arthritis pain during pregnancy. Exercise and physical activity can help improve joint flexibility and strengthen muscles, ultimately leading to pain relief and better overall health. However, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine during pregnancy, especially if you have arthritis. Here are some safe and effective exercise options to consider:

  • Low-impact cardio: Walking, swimming, cycling, and using an elliptical machine are all great low-impact cardiovascular exercises that can increase heart rate and promote overall fitness without putting excessive strain on your joints.
  • Strength training: Resistance exercises can help build muscle mass and protect joints from further damage. Using light weights or resistance bands, perform exercises that target major muscle groups, such as bicep curls, squats, and shoulder presses.
  • Range-of-motion exercises: These exercises focus on moving your joints through their full range of motion and help maintain flexibility. Consider doing yoga, Pilates, or tai chi to improve joint mobility and reduce pain.

Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. If any exercise causes pain or discomfort, stop immediately and talk to your healthcare provider.

Nutrition and Diet Tips for Arthritis when Pregnant

What you eat can have a significant impact on managing arthritis symptoms during pregnancy. Here are some tips to help you create a healthy and balanced diet:

Eat More Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are essential fats that help reduce inflammation, which can be beneficial for arthritis. Foods rich in omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Incorporate Antioxidants into Your Diet

Antioxidants can help protect cells against damage caused by inflammation. Foods high in antioxidants include berries, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers.

Limit Processed Foods and Added Sugars

Foods high in processed ingredients and added sugars can trigger inflammation and exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Choose whole, nutrient-dense foods as often as possible.

Consider Supplements

Your healthcare provider may recommend specific supplements to help manage arthritis symptoms during pregnancy. Some supplements that may be helpful include vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is essential for overall health and can help keep joints lubricated and reduce inflammation. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

Coping with Emotional Well-being

arthritis when pregnant

Managing arthritis during pregnancy can take a toll on your emotional well-being. It is normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or frustrated at times. However, taking care of your mental health is just as important as managing your physical symptoms.

Seek Support

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your loved ones for support. You can also connect with other women who are going through the same experience by joining a support group online. Talking to a mental health professional can also help you develop strategies for coping with the emotional challenges of managing arthritis during pregnancy.

Practice Self-Care

Make time for activities that make you happy and relaxed. This can include taking a warm bath, meditating, or practicing deep breathing exercises. Engaging in gentle exercise, such as yoga or walking, can also help improve your mood and reduce stress.

Stay Informed

Stress and anxiety can often arise from feeling uncertain about what the future holds. Staying informed about your arthritis, treatment options, and how your body is changing during pregnancy can help alleviate these feelings. Speak with your healthcare provider regularly and ask questions whenever you have concerns.

Communicating with Healthcare Providers

Open communication with your healthcare providers is essential when managing arthritis during pregnancy. Your doctor or rheumatologist can help you develop a treatment plan that is safe for you and your baby.

During prenatal visits, be sure to discuss any changes in your arthritis symptoms and any concerns you may have. Keep track of your symptoms and bring a list of questions to your appointments to make the most of your time with your healthcare provider.

If you have trouble communicating your needs, consider bringing a trusted and supportive friend or family member with you to your appointments. They can help advocate for you and ensure that your concerns are being heard.

It’s also important to discuss any medications or supplements you are taking with your healthcare provider. Some medications may be safe to take during pregnancy, while others may pose a risk to your developing baby. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your medication regimen.

arthritis when pregnant

Remember, your healthcare providers are there to support and guide you through your pregnancy journey. By maintaining open communication and working together, you can manage your arthritis symptoms and ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Planning for Postpartum Arthritis Management

Managing arthritis after pregnancy can be challenging, but it is essential to have a plan in place to ensure effective treatment and minimize discomfort. As with any chronic condition, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider to develop a postpartum arthritis management plan that works for you.

Consider discussing the following topics with your healthcare provider:

Topic Discussion Points
Medication Review any medications used during pregnancy, discuss current medication options for postpartum management, and consider any potential risks and benefits of continuing or stopping medication use.
Diet and Nutrition Discuss the role of diet and nutrition in managing arthritis symptoms, and work with a registered dietitian to develop a postpartum meal plan that includes foods with anti-inflammatory properties.
Exercise Review safe exercise options after pregnancy, and work with a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan that strengthens muscles and joints without exacerbating arthritis symptoms.
Support Resources Discuss support resources available for managing postpartum arthritis, including support groups, counseling, and online resources to manage stress and maintain mental well-being.

Remember to communicate any changes or concerns about your arthritis symptoms with your healthcare provider. Working together, you can develop a postpartum arthritis management plan that helps you maintain optimal health and well-being.


Arthritis during pregnancy can be a challenging experience, but with the right approach, it is possible to manage pain and maintain good health. By staying informed about your condition, communicating with healthcare providers, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the impact of arthritis on you and your growing baby.

Remember to stay active, maintain a balanced diet, and prioritize emotional well-being to ensure that you are taking care of your physical and mental health. By developing a postpartum arthritis management plan with the help of healthcare professionals, you can also prepare for life after pregnancy and manage any symptoms that may arise.


Q: What is arthritis during pregnancy?

A: Arthritis during pregnancy refers to the occurrence or exacerbation of arthritis symptoms while a woman is pregnant. It can involve various types of arthritis and may present unique challenges for managing pain and staying healthy.

Q: How does pregnancy affect arthritis symptoms?

A: Pregnancy can have different effects on arthritis symptoms. For some women, pregnancy may lead to a temporary improvement in symptoms, while others may experience an increase in pain and inflammation. The hormonal changes, weight gain, and physical demands of pregnancy can all contribute to these variations.

Q: What types of arthritis are commonly experienced during pregnancy?

A: The most common types of arthritis experienced during pregnancy are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. However, other forms of arthritis can also occur or be aggravated during pregnancy.

Q: How is arthritis when pregnant diagnosed?

A: Diagnosing arthritis when pregnant involves consulting with healthcare professionals who specialize in arthritis and pregnancy. They may consider a woman’s medical history, perform physical examinations, and order relevant tests such as blood tests or imaging studies to make an accurate diagnosis.

Q: How can arthritis pain be managed during pregnancy?

A: Managing arthritis pain during pregnancy can involve a combination of strategies. These may include medication options that are deemed safe for pregnancy, physical therapy exercises and techniques, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture or chiropractic care.

Q: Are there suitable exercises for arthritis relief during pregnancy?

A: Yes, certain exercises and physical activities can provide relief for arthritis symptoms during pregnancy. Low-impact exercises like swimming, prenatal yoga, and gentle stretching are generally considered safe and beneficial for managing arthritis pain.

Q: What role does nutrition and diet play in managing arthritis when pregnant?

A: Nutrition and diet can play a significant role in managing arthritis symptoms during pregnancy. Consuming foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids, may help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Additionally, certain supplements like fish oil or turmeric may also provide benefits.

Q: How can I cope with the emotional impact of living with arthritis during pregnancy?

A: Living with arthritis during pregnancy can have an emotional impact. It is important to prioritize your emotional well-being by seeking support from loved ones, joining support groups, and practicing self-care techniques such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.

Q: How can I effectively communicate with my healthcare providers about my arthritis symptoms?

A: Open communication with your healthcare providers is crucial in effectively managing arthritis when pregnant. Prepare for appointments by writing down your symptoms, concerns, and questions in advance. Be honest and thorough in describing your symptoms, and don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or seek a second opinion if needed.

Q: What should I consider when planning for postpartum arthritis management?

A: Planning for postpartum arthritis management involves working closely with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized plan. This plan may include a combination of medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and ongoing monitoring to ensure effective management of arthritis symptoms after pregnancy.

Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.