In my line of work I see a lot of musculoskeletal pain. My typical day consists of sedentary folks, weekend warriors, professional athletes, and retirees. One population that does not get enough attention are moms during and after pregnancy. There may be several reasons this population tends to be overlooked. I am not aware of any specific studies but I thought I would share my experience with you.
“I thought that the pain would go away but then it didn’t.”
I think that there is an expectation of having pain while pregnancy and after delivery. Carrying around 20-40 pounds of extra weight for 40 weeks can definitely cause discomfort/pain. However, some moms have a spectacular pregnancy and others really struggle with pain until delivery. I think I can speak for all men when I say I cannot even imagine the toll carrying and delivering a child has on a woman’s body. It is so traumatic that I think anyone would expect to be in pain at least for “a couple” months after delivery. However, in the clinic I often hear that they thought the pain would go away and then it just did not. Unfortunately there is reliable way to know when pain should go away or when a woman’s body has “recovered.” Plus, it’s impossible to know what a body should feel like after pregnancy.
“I thought it was normal and that all moms are in pain. I figured it wasn’t worth mentioning.”
I hear this all of the time. I suspect that no one wants to speak up when you are in pain in the mom world. I obviously do not have any firsthand knowledge but I hear things in the clinic, at the playground, online, etc. A little while back I posted a question on Facebook if any of my mom friends had pain after pregnancy. It was like an explosion of discussion! The ones who responded were friends that I knew are generally comfortable with posting and sharing aspects of their lives. However, I know there are a bunch of folks that are just Facebook “lurkers” who do not actively post that probably wanted to say something. Once I saw the response (and maybe lack of response) it kind of made me sad. I wondered if there were a lot of moms suffering in silence and too embarrassed to share their pain.
All parents can agree that having children is a life changing event. However, only moms can attest that it’s a body changing event as well! I see a number of musculoskeletal conditions related to pregnancy and childcare. It ranges from spine pain, pelvic pain, shoulder pain (i.e rotator cuff tendinitis/tendinopathy), nerve irritation (carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome), patellofemoral issues, pelvic floor disorders which includes pain, incontinence, and pain with sexual activity. To make things more complicated, there are often multiple musculoskeletal complaints. However medical care after pregnancy is really focused on well baby visits. From the mom’s standpoint, the gynecologist is focused likely on pain related to tearing or incisions related to delivery, lactation, and screening for post-partum depression just to name a few. Now try to cover those topics into a 15 minute visit! It’s challenging for the provider every time. There is also the issue of awareness of musculoskeletal conditions. Primary care providers have been trained in musculoskeletal disorders in their early years. However, they may not be as comfortable recognizing it so far removed from training. You can’t treat what you don’t see. So it’s not just the amount of time but recognition of the condition. Unfortunately the musculoskeletal issues can fall through cracks or fall into the “I’ll mention it next time” category.
Making appointments can be hard! There is hardly any personal time once kids come into the picture! Aside from trying to sleep, eat, and shower you are tremendously busy caring for little ones. It is easy to forget about yourself when caring for others. Even after deciding to see someone about pain think of the entire process.
Sound familiar? These are all of the steps that need to happen even before treatment is started! The use of telemedicine can circumvent a lot of this headache. Please check out my website for more details.
So I list all of these reasons not to give excuses but motivation to be proactive when it comes to your body. If you do not feel right, say something. Talk with your friends at the very least. Sometimes meeting someone going through the exact same thing is therapeutic and the first step to recovery. As I said, I hate seeing people suffer simply because they assume that it’s normal. But it’s extremely common. So moms, please say something. I know that it’s hard and we can all lose ourselves in our kids. Please know that there are people that can help. I know you have a million things to do but please put yourself at the top of that list. If you have any problems locating a provider in your area please shoot me a message and I’d be glad to help you out.
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I currently work in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I also serve as assistant professor at EVMS working with residents and medical students.
I loved living in the Pacific Northwest! Aside from clinical care, I was involved in holding monthly spine conferences and helping develop a multidisciplinary spine center.
A year dedicated to diagnosing and managing a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. I also had the opportunity to give a variety of lectures to various residents in the Chicagoland area.
Outside of residency, I became very involved within the field at a national level serving as president of the Resident Physician Council for the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Helping develop the largest and longest running physiatric medical student programs in the country is one of my proudest achievements.
A challenging yet exciting part of my life. This is where I started to create my vision of musculoskeletal medicine. My skills as an osteopathic physician have truly complemented my sports medicine practice.
Aside from studying, I became very involved in the Filipino-American community on campus. This is where I realized my passion for leadership and mentoring.