Pregnancy and Rheumatic Disease
Rheumatic disease is a term used to describe several conditions that affect the body’s musculoskeletal system. The two most common forms are osteoarthritis and RA (rheumatoid arthritis).
Most of these conditions result from the immune system attacking healthy cells. They can cause inflammation, swelling, and pain in one joint or several joints at once.
Types of Rheumatic Diseases
Osteoarthritis causes deterioration of joint cartilage and underlying bone changes. It can bring pain, inflexibility, and swelling.
RA also causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness. It attacks joints on both sides of the body at once, such as both wrists or both hands. It may gradually spread to other body parts and organs.
Other common rheumatic diseases include:
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Sjögren’s syndrome
Rheumatic Disease Risk Factors
The risk factors differ for the various rheumatic diseases. For the most common form of the disease, osteoarthritis, the risk factors are:
- Joint injury or overuse.
- Age. The risk increases with age.
- Gender. Women are more likely to develop OA.
- Obesity. Being overweight can be a factor in developing OA.
- Race. Some Asian populations have lower risk for OA.
The risks that rheumatic diseases pose for pregnant women varies according to the disease. Doctors recommend that women have their rheumatic disease under control before pregnancy. Women with inflammatory arthritis (joint disease) tend to be less at risk for complications. In fact, many women experience relief from RA symptoms during pregnancy. However, pregnant women with rheumatic diseases may need the care of a medical team as well as extra checkups and monitoring of their progress, the use of medications, and any changes in symptoms.
Because of the potential for flare-ups in the postpartum period, illness management is crucial for women with rheumatic disease. Both the mother’s and newborn’s needs will influence a mother’s postpartum care plan.
Proudly Serving: Land O’ Lakes, Seminole Heights, and Zephyrhills.