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Breast Feeding

Stiffness of joints while breasfeeding

09/12/2006

Question:

I gave birth 6 mo ago, and I`m still breasfeeding. 2 mo ago, I started to have pain in my fingers and toes. I`m very stiff in the morning, and can hardly bend my fingers. I went to see a rheumatologist, and still awaiting results.

I read a very similar question from 9 years ago, and was surprised that someone described the exact same problem I have. What does the research say about it? Thanks.

Answer:

There is apparently a close relationship between the neuroendocrine system and the immune system. For example, women with autoimmune diseases have elevated prolactin levels. These include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus, polymyalgia and fibromyalgia. Prolactin can be produced by lymphocytes as well as by the anterior pituitary.

It has been suggested that mild hyperprolactinemia is a risk factor for the development of autoimmune arthritis, particularly in the postpartum period.

There is speculation that suppressing prolactin may help make anti-arthritic drugs more effective.

Research is on-going in this area.

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Response by:

Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM
Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati