Joint Pain after Childbirth
Joint pain after childbirth refers to pain, ache, soreness, numbness, or feeling of heaviness in the joints, back, or knees after giving birth. It is a type of Painful Obstruction Syndrome and has specific characteristics and pathology that occur after childbirth.
- Severe blood loss during labor: Profuse blood loss during labor can lead to severe Blood deficiency after childbirth. This can cause a dull ache of a deficient nature in the joints.
- Invasion of external Wind: After childbirth, a woman is more susceptible to invasions of external Wind because the channels are weakened due to Blood deficiency and the space between the skin and muscles is empty due to Qi deficiency. Wind often combines with Cold or Dampness or both to cause joint pain. If Wind predominates, the ache will move from joint to joint. If Cold predominates, there is intense pain. If Dampness predominates, there is numbness, tingling, and a feeling of heaviness in the limbs.
- Emotional problems: Emotions such as irritation, worry, frustration, and resentment can cause stagnation of Qi. After childbirth, this can easily lead to Blood stasis. Blood stasis in the channels, especially in the joints, can cause joint pain of a stabbing nature.
- Weak body condition: If a woman has pre-existing weakness of the Kidneys and Liver, this can be exacerbated after childbirth. This can cause a lack of nourishment for the bones and sinews, leading to a dull pain of a deficient nature in the joints, especially in the lower back and knees.
The pathology of joint pain after childbirth can be differentiated according to whether it is of an external or internal origin. When joint pain after childbirth is due to invasion of Wind, it is of external nature and its pathology is similar to that of Painful Obstruction Syndrome. In cases of Blood deficiency and deficiency of the Liver and Kidneys, the joint pain is caused by malnourishment of the channels, sinews, and bones. Blood stasis, caused by stagnation of Qi and Blood in the channels, is always painful. From the perspective of deficiency/excess, the pain from invasion of Wind and from Blood stasis is of an excess nature, while the pain from Blood deficiency and from Liver and Kidney deficiency is of a deficient nature.
Identification of patterns and treatment
The treatment principle must be differentiated according to the pathology. In deficiency cases, the primary aim is to nourish Blood, tonify the Liver and Kidneys, and benefit the sinews and bones. The secondary aim is to expel Wind, scatter Cold, and resolve Dampness. In excess cases, the primary aim is to expel Wind, scatter Cold, and resolve Dampness. The secondary aim is to nourish Blood. Even if the joint pain is from external Wind, it is important to nourish Blood after childbirth because Blood deficiency makes the woman susceptible to invasions of Wind, and because nourishing Blood helps to expel Wind from the channels.
In cases of Blood stasis, the main treatment principle is to invigorate Blood and eliminate stasis. In cases of Blood deficiency, the main treatment principle is to nourish Blood. In cases of Liver and Kidney deficiency, the main treatment principle is to tonify the Liver and Kidneys and benefit the sinews and bones. In cases of external Wind, the main treatment principle is to expel Wind and scatter Cold. In all cases, the secondary treatment principle is to resolve Dampness.
Clinical manifestations and treatment principles
The clinical manifestations of joint pain after childbirth can be divided into four categories:
- Deficiency of Blood: This manifests as a dull ache that improves with rest. The treatment principle is to nourish Blood and tonify the Liver and Kidneys.
- Invasion of external Wind: This manifests as pain that moves from joint to joint and improves with activity. The treatment principle is to expel Wind and scatter Cold.
- Deficiency of the Liver and Kidneys: This manifests as a dull ache that improves with rest. The treatment principle is to tonify the Liver and Kidneys and benefit the sinews and bones.
- Blood stasis: This manifests as severe, stabbing pain. The treatment principle is to invigorate Blood and eliminate stasis.
Prognosis and prevention
The prognosis for joint pain after childbirth is generally good if it is treated promptly and effectively. To prevent joint pain after childbirth, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, manage emotional stress, and avoid excessive blood loss during labor.
From a Western medical perspective, joint pain after childbirth may be caused by various factors, such as hormonal changes, physical stress on the joints, and psychological stress. Treatment may include pain medication, physical therapy, and psychological support.