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Osteoarthritis and Medication Use in Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is filled with aches and pains for healthy women, but if you have osteoarthritis it can be even more challenging. Some of the normal symptoms of third trimester pregnancy include:

• Back ache
• Leaning backwards when walking
• Breathlessness due to less available space for the heart and lungs
• Swollen ankles due to the extra weight being carried
• Discomfort in the pelvis (common after your baby’s head has engaged)

Sometimes the hormone relaxin, which is released to loosen muscles and assist in the birth of the baby, causes the pelvis to move, which results in pain in the pubic bone, hip or thigh. This is called symphysis pubis dysfunction.

If you have osteoarthritis ("wear and tear" arthritis of the joints), pregnancy may unfortunately make your symptoms worse. This is because the extra weight from the baby puts extra strain on already damaged joints.

You may also have to stop taking your medications if they are not suitable for a developing baby.


It is considered generally safe at the recommended dosages, except if you have liver or kidney disease. There is research that showed babies born to mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy are more likely to develop increased wheezing. The results of a review of six studies showed a pooled increased risk of 21 percent in the medicated group. Although there were limitations in their study, since it did not specifically measure for asthma, the results warrant further investigation on acetaminophen use in pregnancy.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

These are drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. Although they are NOT recommended for healthy pregnant women, they are sometimes used in pregnant women with osteoarthritis. They aren’t thought to affect the baby directly, but they can decrease the amount of fluid around the baby. They can also make it difficult for women to get pregnant.

If you are taking anti-inflammatories, they should be stopped at 32 weeks of pregnancy because if they are taken after that they may cause a vessel in your baby’s heart to close early.

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October 2, 2013 - 11:28pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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