This is not a blog post about pregnancy and pain and hypermobility, although you’ll learn a little, perhaps. This post is about how information perpetuates.
Yesterday I posted this on Facebook:
PREGNANCY SCIENCE UPDATE: The hormone RELAXIN inhibits uterine contraction, increases the length of the interpubic ligament, and softens the cervix. IT DOES NOT increase the laxity of the joints nor affect the whole body, making pregnant women more susceptible to joint injury. About 30 years ago, it was hypothesized that pregnancy hormones created an all-over joint hypermobility, a notion widely spread in the 1980s. More recent research has shown that there is NO CORRELATION between pregnancy hormones and joint mobility. WE NEED TO STOP TEACHING THIS INFO IN PREGNANCY COURSES. What we do have is a widespread issue of women without enough strength to carry the rapidly-increasing load of pregnancy, then straining their ligaments, and getting injured. People also do not have enough information on how to align their body correctly to know when they're stretching a muscle or when they're stretching a ligament. It's time to teach them, don't you think?
I choose the wording of my posts carefully. Yes, they are inflammatory. I do this on purpose. I do this to get people to read them and think about them. I do this because people need to think more about the information they subscribe to. We have an entire group of professionals who are memorizing what other professionals (who are teaching the courses, writing their books and blogging like me) are saying without thinking about it for themselves. I don’t expect you to take what I say and start believing it. But if you are a professional, I at least expect you to think about it.
The resulting Facebook comments and ensuing emails have been interesting. There were a few people who were like “Cool! Thanks for letting me know. I’m going to go update my curriculum.” And then there those that were those who were like “Shame on you for making women feel bad about their pregnancy-related pain. It’s a well-known fact that hormones loosen the body to prepare for delivery. And you probably kick puppies too.”
Ok, first of all, how do you propose I keep my puppy from yapping?
Just kidding. I don't even have a dog. Though my neighbor sure does...
I SAID I’M JUST KIDDING!!!
I find it ironic to be chastised for spreading the information I do. I find it much more harmful to continue to teach women that the state of their body during pregnancy has to do with uncontrollable factors, genetically designed to make them miserable, unable to walk and needing medical treatment. But let’s leave that aside and talk professionalism. I find it even more unscientific to continue to teach this information when there is analysis that shows the facts are otherwise.
They say it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I used to think this meant that it was difficult because the dog was too old to learn but I now think this has more to do with the age of the information we hold dear. And yes, this means I’m calling you a dog. But I only kick puppies, so no need to worry.
We tend not to place the same rigors on initial information as we do subsequent or follow-up amendments to the aforementioned initial information. I’m sorry about that last sentence. I’ve been watching old episodes of West Wing and am channeling my inner Congresswoman right now.
Let me re-state that last sentence: The information we learn first becomes our truths, and anyone who states differently is forced to not only educate, but to defend, convince and hand-walk us through why our first bit of knowledge has to be let go.
While there are extreme differences in opinion about normal birth between the allopathic and alternative communities, there seems to be a strong consensus that the hip and back pain, the separating of the pubic symphysis, the pelvic floor disorder, the labral tears, the carpal tunnel, the you-name-it are all the body’s normal response to the state of pregnancy.
This Etched-in-Stone belief stalls investigations into the effects our personal habits of fatigue, anxiety, sleep-deprivation, adrenal production, mineral-starvation, movement patterns, muscle tension, footwear, and everything else have on human tissue. Science can't move forward if we don't open our minds and people cannot get better. Chronic pain issues are worsening under our current belief system -- not getting better.
It is hard to let go of beliefs when we start our logical deductions with premises that are false. Some of these from Facebook/relaxin thread included:
All ligament tissue is the same.
Hormones are systemic as opposed to site-specific.
Our body's ligaments (other than the pubic) need to loosen to allow a baby out.
On Facebook I pointed out that the purpose of my post wasn't to state that there's no hypermobility or pain -- only that the cause of this condition was not necessarily what we think it is. The science points to pregnancy-related pain as being mechanical, as opposed to something chemical. There is much more concrete data on the properties of human tissue, the loads these tissues can bear, the damage that overloading causes, and the resulting injuries from mechanical overload. There is more concrete data on the roll the muscular system plays in keeping ligament tissues unloaded, and the functional strength in people with ligament issues, than there is on the biochemical experience *some* people have have during pregnancy. Yet we're not presenting this mechanical information, we're retelling the same story over and over: this pain is natural. Your suffering is natural. We do this for a lot of ailments, actually and the phenomenon is not exclusive to the allopathic community. It's wide-spread, my friend.
I guess the point of today's post is this: “That’s not what I heard” is not a great response to new information that affects you or your clients and patients. Do some research on your own. And, instead of only researching new stuff, how about taking a look into the stuff you believed before. When (if) you’ve learned that pregnancy causes a whole-body laxity of the joints, how did you verify this information? Did you read the research articles themselves? Did the study have valid measures? After doing this, make your own decisions. I’m not the boss of information. I could be making tons of mistakes. For sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes spelling.
I still love you, but I’m taking a tech break for the rest of the year. I mean month. I mean day. As you could imagine.
P.S. There were also requests for references on Facebook, as if I were the only person who can type two key words into Pubmed.com and hit the search button. Did I mention I have a six week old baby, a one-year old and donate all my free time to generating massive amounts of public information? I provided a couple articles I had at my fingertips, because I like to be helpful. You can have them too:
I’d also like to point out that not one reference-requesting person said Thank You. But that’s beside the point. Other people said thank you for other things. Just not those people. For the references.