About a month ago, I noticed that my feet hurt. It’s not constant, mostly when I get up in the morning. My feet hit the floor and OW. They feel like I’ve spent a long day walking around Manhattan – home of the most painful sidewalks on Earth – in ballet flats. It was most prevalent in the morning and faded during the day. As the days wore on, the pain was creeping up to my ankles and becoming more noticeable throughout the day. I assumed it was a combination of leftover baby weight, carrying around my ever-growing daughter, and being on my feet chasing my 4 year old all the time.
I joked on my Facebook page that, while there was no doubt a simple explanation for my foot pain, I hypochondriacally thought it might be something serious. Foot cancer, maybe. A reader of mine told me she’d had the same problem after having a baby and increasing her Vitamin D intake helped relieve the symptoms.
That got me curious. Was postpartum joint pain a thing? With a known protocol for treatment? I hit up Dr. Google with my question and found something surprising and frustrating: dozens and dozens of message board posts about women with similar symptoms and almost nothing on causes or treatment. The closest thing I got to real medical information was a short abstract on the NIH site detailing a study that revealed that, yes, women have joint pain during and after pregnancy. Nothing on why the pain occurs or how to fix it. Meanwhile, women all over the internet are going to doctors who are working them up for rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia because there’s no other ready explanation. Futilely, I might add. Most of the women were not diagnosed with anything and many reported a reduction in symptoms several months after stopping breastfeeding.
I’m not willing to stop nursing just because my feet hurt so I was interested in the vitamin D idea that my reader suggested. I also read about one woman who said calcium supplements helped her. I checked out the link between vitamin D and joint pain and got some info from Livestrong that said low D levels and joint pain might be connected. Since calcium and D are both associated with bone health and need to be taken together to be effective (they also need to be taken with food since they’re fat soluble) I decided to give a calcium and D supplement a try. As a woman with a family history of osteoporosis, the supplement wouldn’t do me any harm. I figured I’d give it a try and if the pain didn’t improve, I’d check in with my doctor.
I’m happy to report that after a couple of weeks of adding the supplement to my daily multi-vitamin, I’ve noticed a reduction in my foot pain. It’s not gone but it’s much better and I only notice it after I’ve been still for a long time, like after sleep. If it gets really bad, like after a day or being on my feet a lot, I can take some acetominephen or ibuprofen and that helps a lot. Stretching my feet and flexing my ankles periodically is also helpful, as is wearing supportive shoes.
I’m glad I found what seems to be a simple fix to an annoying problem but I’m frustrated that there’s so little good medical data on the problem. It seems like if I can put the pieces together and come up with joint pain being related to pregnancy and/or breastfeeding, medical science could do the same and look into the issue more thoroughly. In the mean time, it seems like this is one of those health problems that women have to help each other solve wile we nag doctors to think out of the typical pain-issue box.
Please remember, that I’m not a doctor or a researcher. I’m just a mom with aching feet and access to Google. This article does not constitute medical advice and all the remedies I’ve tried are over the counter supplements and medicines taken as directed.
Have you experienced joint pain after having a baby? What have you done to relieve it?