Pregnancy comes with a myriad of symptoms! Similar is the case with pregnancy and joint pain, learn more by reading further.
Pregnancy And Joint Pain
The body goes through remarkable changes during pregnancy to accommodate and nurture the developing fetus. These changes can trigger all kinds of health problems and complications, notably joint pain. Joint pain manifests as stiffness, soreness, or an ache in the places where the body bends. While most joints are vulnerable, pain in the weight-bearing joints of the knee is a common complaint during pregnancy.
The knee pain may be dull and continuous with episodes of exacerbation or, the onset of pain occurs with a change in position, standing, or walking for too long. The severity can vary from mild discomfort to debilitating. This can affect the expectant mother’s mobility, independence and rob them of much-needed rest by disrupting their quantity and quality of sleep.
Joint pain during pregnancy is usually attributed to a combination of the following factors:
- Weight gain during pregnancy, though expected, increases strain on the weight-bearing joints in a short period. Water retention and swelling add to the pressure on the knees.
- The expanding uterus shifts the center of gravity by altering body weight distribution. A compensatory change in posture and movement [waddling/ pregnancy gait] can hurt the joints.
- Pregnancy Hormones
Relaxin and progesterone soften the joint ligaments, increasing their laxity (loose ligaments). This destabilizes the joints while performing daily activities, resulting in pain. Ligaments can remain loosened for months after the delivery, and the joint pain persists.
- Pregnancy can aggravate the symptoms of pre-existing arthritis.
- Disorders of the thyroid gland are relatively common during gestation. Hypothyroidism is accompanied by weight gain, which can distress the leg joints.
- Sciatica: The sciatic nerve can get pinched as the organs shift to accept the enlarged uterus, this causes numbness/tingling in the lower back, knees, and calves.
Prevention and Cure
The following measures can alleviate the symptoms of pregnancy-related joint pain and provide relief.
Regular exercise to stay fit and strengthen the supporting muscles. You should properly perform all workouts with guidance from a trainer to avoid the risk of injury. Prenatal yoga, prenatal Pilates, and swimming are recommended because they are low impact. Stay active as a sedentary lifestyle is a contributor to knee pain.
2. Hot and Cold Therapy
Take a warm bath or shower. Apply heat to the joint with a heating pad and take care to avoid burns. Use an ice pack wrapped in a towel. These are some hot and cold therapies that can help with joint pain.
Massaging the joints by a specialized therapist trained in prenatal care improves the range of joint movement.
4. Sleeping Position
Make it a habit to sleep on your side and keep a pillow between your knees for added support and comfort.
5. Avoid Medications
Pain relief medication should only be taken under medical advice, even if it’s OTC (over-the-counter). The same goes for any herbal supplements. Avoid NSAIDs (non –steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen in the third trimester.
6. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids is said to relieve joint pain. You can try including fish, nuts, seeds, plant oils in your diet. However, consult your OBGYN before making any major diet or lifestyle changes.
Physiotherapy can help to improve joint strength and flexibility. A physiotherapist will also help correct any postural dysfunction. Additional joint support in the form of a physician-recommended splint or knee brace can help as well. Furthermore, you can try acupuncture therapy to get relief.
Avoid high heels that cause strain and flats/flip-flops that offer no support. Ppt for comfortable footwear that provides adequate cushioning and improves alignment. Take the load off your knees with rest and elevate your legs while resting.
Go To The Doctor If
- The joint pain is severe, persistent, or increasing in intensity.
- The pain is a hindrance to your daily activities.
- If any other symptoms appear.