Unexplained Joint Pain....HELP!

Updated on November 17, 2010
K.L. asks from Bozeman, MT
22 answers

Hi Ladies,

My daughter is now three months old and still breastfeeding. Everything is going well, except about six weeks ago I started having random pains in my joints. At first it was just in my shoulders and wrists, which I figured was from holding her while nursing, but now I am having joint pain everywhere. I wake up in the morning and am so stiff and sore that I feel like I'm about 80 years old. At first I explained it away with being the mother of a newborn, but she is sleeping well and the pain has gotten worse. There are times when my arms (radiating from the joints out) feel like I've just lifted weights for two hours. At times my knees feel like I ran a marathon and if I get down on the floor to do something with one of my kids they will "lock" up and it's very difficult for me to get back up. Also, when I get up in the morning the bottoms of my feet hurt like I have been on them non-stop for a week. Some days it is localized in my shoulders or knees or wrists, other days it is EVERY joint including my fingers and toes. Sometimes it is hard to pick up my son or daughter and I've even had trouble opening jars or bottles....things that have NEVER bothered me in the past. There also seems to be some weakness when the joints are really bothering me. I saw my doctor on Monday and he ran some tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis. They all came back normal and I am seeing him again next week. I'm hoping I can get some kind of explanation for this pain and stop feeling like I'm crazy. Has anyone else gone through something like this? It's starting to affect my day to day routine. It's emotionally and physically draining and some days I can hardly get off the couch, let alone muster up the energy to play with my son or get any house work done. Please help! It feels like it's getting worse, not better. Thanks in advance.

K.

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A.M.

answers from Denver on

Have you considered that you might be depleted from having just had a baby and breastfeeding? Most of us are depleted just in our normal lives, let alone after the demand of pregnancy, child birth, and nursing. I found supplements helped me a ton during pregnancy and postpartum. I found a brand I really like that is super easy to take and is very high quality. You can private message me or email me if you want more info [email protected]____.com other thought is to have yourself tested for Celiac Disease. It is an autoimmune disease where your body reacts to gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye). The result is leaky gut and your body begins to eat away at the villi found in your intestines. You get very malnourished. One common symptom is all over body pain, joint pain, and stiffness, among over 200 other symptoms. Your doctor can test for it with a blood test. If the blood test comes back positive, they usually do an endoscopy to look at your intestines and see what the villi look like to confirm. As far as diseases go, it is pretty easy to treat- you eat a gluten free diet and your body begins to heal over time. I have no idea if this is what is going on with you, but thought I would mention it- many doctors don't test for it unless you ask. I had body pain like what you are describing and it got so bad I had to stop working. I got down to 100 lbs (I'm 5'8") and could barely get out of bed. It was such a blessing when I found out what was going on! I wish you the best.

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L.G.

answers from Houston on

I hate to mention something that couldn't be true but have you considered "Lupus"?

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S.L.

answers from Grand Junction on

I had a similar experience while nursing my newborn daughter almost 2 years ago. My main symptoms are muscle fatigue (not weakness), including eye muscle fatigue, joint pain . . . I, too, was screened for RA. The only abnormal test result I have had is an elevated CPK in the 300-600 range. Maybe they checked that on you. It's a muscle enzyme released in your blood when your muscles are damaged. My doctor said my joints were affected because my muscles were not supporting my joints properly. I'm not convinced. I have been to Mayo Clinic in AZ, Denver for a muscle biopsy, have seen a couple rheumatologists, neurologists and have had numerous tests to rule out muscle disease, joint disease. Those doctors all said "something isn't quite right, but we don't think you're going to die" (nice, huh). Because of the way it came on while nursing, I'm totally convinced it has something to do with hormones. I'm sorry I don't have an answer for you, I just wanted to share my story. If you don't get any answers, time may settle things down. I had to quit nursing my baby, I felt so awful, then my symptoms got worse. When I started to get my period again, my symptoms followed a pattern with my cycle (apparently common with muscle disease, so that's why I was so carefully screened). My doc found nothing (aside from the up and down CPK), which I was releived about, but I have no answer. My next step has been to cut out sugar, preservatives, MSG, etc, because those things make my muscles more tired. I've asked my doc to send me to an endocrinologist or GYN. He asked me to log my symptoms related to my cycle for 3 months first. Sorry to go on . . . I just think that having kids and nursing is such a huge hormonal shift for us women and I think doctors sometimes dismiss the impact and the possible issues when something isn't quite balanced. I hope the best for you and after 2 years of looking for an answer for myself, my biggest advice is that if you aren't comfortable with how your doctor is handling things, respectfully find another one. (my 1st doctor thought it was all in my head, and my next doctor was appalled that my symptoms were ignored). Blessings!

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S.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Don't hae time to read the others so maybe you have heard this... do you take calcium and magnesium? I was taking magnesium to stayregular but you have to take calcium or your joints and bones ache. Also, try some good fish oils. They lubricate the joints and if you don't eat a lot of fish (I eat none) then you need to take some Omega fatty acids. Make sure they are high quality so you don't get metals in them. I really think it is usually based on nutrition and vitamin/mineral intake. It is the fastest, cheapest thing to start with.

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C.E.

answers from Provo on

I have struggled with unusual joint pain for years and gone to many doctors. My advice is to go to a "wholistic" or "natural" doctor first. The tests for arthritis are often the limit of what a typical primary care physician can do/understand in this area. The wholistic doctor may recommend you to a Rheumatologist after checking for vitamin deficiencies, etc. But go to the wholistic doctor first. I'd give you a referral but I'm not close by you. Good luck!

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M.C.

answers from Denver on

Hi K.,

I'm SO sorry you're experiencing this! I, too, experienced something very similar. After the birth of my first son, I had horrible, unexplainable joint pain, primarily in my knees and ankles, but also in my wrists as well. I kept thinking it was a post-partum thing, but it lasted for months! I was breastfeeding also, and everytime I would get out of bed at night to nurse, I would barely be able to support my weight on my ankles (I'm 110 lbs), and literally have to hobble to the crib. Going up or down stairs was torture on my kness. I also feared I'd somehow developed theumatoid arthritis or lupus or something. The whole experience was awful. I even had xrays on my wrists. The long and short was none of the tests revealed anything, and eventually (and I can't remember exactly, but maybe 6-7 months) the joint pain just kinda disappeared. (I was still breastfeeding). My mom, who's a nurse and mother of 4 would always say, "never underestimate hormones and what happens to your body after pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, etc."-- and it's SO true. I also experienced wierd symptoms after the birth of my second son, but won't go into that! :)

I would continue to seek medical care to hopefully get an answer and follow your gut, but I wanted to share my story with you to give you hope that the joint pain can also spontaneously go away as it did with me.

Congrats on your new little one, and I hope you get some relief soon. Hang in there! If you need someone to commiserate with, let me know! :)

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S.T.

answers from Denver on

Hi K.,
Speaking from experience, check to see if you have any food allergies. I thought I outgrew the ones I had as a kid, but they had turned into other things. While I'm not horribly allergic to anything, I can definitely feel a difference in my joints if I eat things I should not.

Definitely research the supplements you can safely take while breastfeeding. I use a glucosamine, cetyl miristrate supplement for joint care. Remember caring for kids does put you in lots of weird positions, so make sure you are doing some stretching and walking each day.

Don't underestimate what your body just went through again and how your hormones are messed up either.

I can get you more info on magnetics/infrared and a joint cream that really help me with pain, stiffness and sleep too! I can also share some info about an energy release work I do called The Emotion Code. Trapped emotional energy can disrupt the normal flow of energy in our bodies and result in physical, emotional and behavioral issues. I've seen some amazing things in both people and animals. Email me if you want more info on either.

Good luck and enjoy the kids. Take some time for you too!
S.

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A.A.

answers from Raleigh on

dear. Friend...first question ive to ask,, Did u eat healthy food after ure baby.. like milk soups..have these till your child is 5 years. And yes drink hot milk with half teaspoon tumeric.. it reduces pain and then grdually vanishes.. DONT lift heavy things.. this damages our bones....

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A.N.

answers from Grand Junction on

look into lupus and fibromyalgia, generally you'd need to see a rheumatologist for testing. i get the pains when i'm stressed, when the weather changes drastically, when i don't eat healthily, etc. good luck!

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S.H.

answers from Hartford on

Wow...I just thought I was getting old. My son is 5 months old and I have been breastfeeding him. My feet (especially my heels) began to ache around the third trimester. I attributed it to hormones, but it hasn't gone away. My arthritic-like symptoms are mostly in my heels, ankles and sometimes knees. They are unpredictably stiff and I feel like I have to walk around like Frankenstein. I am glad you posted this - it reassures me that it is most likely hormone-related.

Scratch that - the second responder got me thinking about diet. It isn't uncommon to become deficient in something when breastfeeding. I quickly researched deficiencies and joint stiffness and came up with this link: http://www.vindy.com/news/2009/feb/22/vitamin-d-deficienc....

Vitamin D deficiency is very common (mother's and babies are often encouraged to supplement). Oddly enough, I just took a Vitamin D(3) supplement today and yesterday (and sat out in the sun) and I don't recall feeling very stiff today...interesting.

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J.P.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Maybe your mineral difficiant. I would go on a whole foods diet. No meat, or eggs, very little milk, but eat lots of vegies and some fruits. I have a blender that I make a shake with. I use seeded grapes, apple pieces, strawberries, banana (1/3) and a handful of spinach. I usually make sure my fruit is fozen so my shake is thick. It is so yummy. I also feel better. I hope your blender is up to it.

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M.H.

answers from Chicago on

K...........You are describing me EXACTLY. My baby was born 12.13.09 and is now 6 mos and I still breastfeed........I have terrible joint pain......it is not getting better.....and now i am thinking of making a Dr. appt. Did you find anything else out? Thanks, M.

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J.W.

answers from Denver on

I would also ask your doctor to test for postpartum hypothyroidism.

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J.M.

answers from Denver on

K.,

This is just a guess, but has your doctor checked your potassium levels? My husband was experiencing simular joint pain and also abdominal pain. We never related the two. The doctor was concerned about the abdominal pain and ran every test in the book. The only thing that came back conclusive was that his potassium levels were low. Potassium is an electrolite and every muscle in your body requires it to function. Don't go to the vitamin isle for a supplement...they only sell less than 100mg tablets. (Thanks FDA so they can push drugs). Go to the baking isle and buy "NoSalt" salt substitute. It is potassium chloride. (Our friend a veternarian told us about it.) Us it as you would salt and "salt" everything liberally with it. We even add it to our coffee. Within hours of starting to use it, my husbands joints started feeling better. He didn't realize how bad it was until his joints were better. It also eliminated his abdominal pain. FYI doctors know very little about nutrition, but know how to prescribe drugs. Do your own research...our soils and plants are so depleted that we no longer get our RDA from our diet. Another good source is low sodium V-8. A 12oz. can supplies approximately 1/3 of your RDA. I think the RDA is 3,200 - 4,200mg a day. Low potassium also leads to migrane type headaches. We have pretty much eliminated regular table salt and almost exclusively use "NoSalt". There are a few things however, such as tomato sauces that need the real thing. Hope that this helps. Oh, if you are on high blood pressure medication, check with your doctor before switching to "NoSalt"...most medication is potassium that is why you can't but supplements of over 100mg. Hope this helps.

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J.L.

answers from Denver on

K.,
The same thing happened to me. I found out that I had Lupus. You are born with it and it comes pronounced after your child baring years. There are medications that can help with the pain, and you can live a more normal life. I hope that this helps and please have your doctor check you for this, it is illness that often is misdiagnosed and or missed for years.
J.

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J.F.

answers from Denver on

I just posted this same question about 3-4 weeks ago.... I was/is having the same thing! Deep down ache that kills me. Can do many normal daily things at all without wanting to cry. Opening jars and holding my little one can seem like a big task at times from the pain.
I will say mine has gotten a bit better, but not gone.
My daughter will be 3 months soon and mine has been going on since about the second week we were home.
I am mostly being told that it is normal... it has to do with hormones along with the work we are doing with our little ones. Being tired of course adds to it all. Looks like we both have toddlers as well, so our life can be a bit nuts at times.
I have been trying to eat better and drink more water. Of course also trying to rest when I can, but that isn't always easy.
I have been told this could go on for some time or be gone tomorrow. Not much help I know.
Just know you aren't alone and that is should get better. I try and keep a positive attitude about it all, take some tylenol when the pain is TOO bad and just do what I can.
Good luck!

E.F.

answers from Casper on

K., I just heard about someone that a similar thing happened to. Ended up she had a parasitic infection. Perhaps you could ask your docter if he could test for something like that.
Good luck
E.

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L.M.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Have them test your thyroid. Sometimes hypothyroid can cause symptoms like you are explaining. Just a thought.

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O.L.

answers from Denver on

I'd definitely try calcium supplements first. (I believe they're best absorbed when combined with magnesium and D3, but I'm no expert.)

I had joint pain while nursing my DS1 and calcium seemed to help. And now that I'm thinking about it, I've been doing calcium supplements all along with DS2 and have *not* had the joint pain. So that seems encouraging. :)

Best of luck!

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A.M.

answers from Columbus on

Hi K.-I have had a very similar experience and thought I would see how you are feeling now almost a year after you posted this question. I am now 5 months post partum and about two weeks after delivery I began experiencing joint pain all over, but primarily in my back and hips. Additionally, I have had intermittent muscle aches, with fatigue and night sweats. I too have felt like I am 80. I did have some mild to moderate low back pain previously, but nothing like this and not in so many areas. It has been intermittent in severity, but always there. I had all electrolytes checked (K, Na, etc), CPK, Rheumatoid Factor, Vit D and a bunch of other tests taken. So no Lupus, no Arthritis, no viral or bacterial illness and likely not fibromyalgia. I have done physical therapy, watched my ergonomics, yoga, diet watching, supplements, etc but it still continues. I started to wean from breast feeding over a 10 day period and the pain became excruciating along with migraine headaches after completely stopping breast feeding for two days. While my OBGYN hasn't seen specific cases of this before she questions whether the changes in estrogen may be the culprit. As my Estorgen begins to rise again I may well find the symptoms resolve. So I'm curious have your symptoms resolved or has anyone else had a similar experience?

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J.P.

answers from Denver on

You've gotten lots of good advice and I would follow up on them if I were you. I'll also throw in another piece of advice---you might try rolfing. Your body shifts quite a bit when you are pregnant and rolfing may help get you realigned. Also look into all the hormone stuff people suggested.
Good luck!
J.

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M.F.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi Kristen,
This happened to me, and I ended up stopping nursing when my child was only 9 months old. I did have a lot of tests first, which all came back normal (and I would recommend, to make sure it isn't anything else), but the doctor said it was from the hormones. Best wishes.

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