Recovery time for women suffering from neuropathy from childbirth varies greatly. Many report full recovery within two weeks, while others have symptoms lasting for more than a year. According to research studies, most women recover within 6 months.[i][ii] It is also evident anecdotally through the Moms with Femoral/Peroneal/Sciatic Nerve Damage from Labor/Delivery support group that not all women recover. While even more rare than the condition in the first place, those affected can suffer from ongoing numbness, tingling, weakness, pain, and discomfort. The worst cases often report no longer being able to work, needing to go on disability, and/or needing to completely change their lives to handle their symptoms. Furthermore, other issues, such as back pain, hip pain, and arch pain, can arise as the woman compensates for her injury.
Seeing a neurologist can help pinpoint which nerve has been damaged and how much damage there is. Many women have an EMG (Electromyography) to help in this diagnosis.
Physical therapy is the primary recommendation for aiding in recovery. Physical therapy itself can not make the nerves regenerate – only time can do that. However, it can help keep your muscles active, preventing even worse atrophy, and it can help the brain try to send signals to the damaged nerve, in affect trying to “wake it up.” As one neurologist said, “Just try to use [the damaged leg], even if it isn’t moving, just attempt.”
Recommendations have been made for walking, water therapy, and swimming. Many suffering from drop foot find wearing an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) helpful. Other women have reported electrostimulation, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic therapy, stretching, foam rolling, and taking B vitamins to be helpful in their recovery. When discussing your injury with your doctor, mention these options as potentials to aid in your specific recovery journey.
And in the meantime, join our Facebook group to read encouraging stories, ask questions, and get support from women who have been there!
** The above recommendations should be discussed with your doctor prior to starting them. Recovery should be supervised by a trained medical adviser.
[i] Dar AQ, Robinson APC, Lyons G. Postpartum neurologic symptoms following regional blockade: A prospective study with case controls. Int J Obstet Anesth 2002;11:85–90.
[ii] Wong, Cynthia A. MD et. al. “Incidence of Postpartum Lumbosacral Spine and Lower Extremity Nerve Injuries.” Obstetrics & Gynecology. February 2003. http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2003/02000/Incidence_of_Postpartum_Lumbosacral_Spine_and.14.aspx
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