Most people know that pregnancy is accompanied by a range of bodily changes, including weight gain and hormonal differences that can affect your mood, appetite and sleep cycles. Fewer people are aware of the increased risk of joint pain during pregnancy. This can be due to a number of causes, including anatomical changes that prepare the body for birth, as well as simple stress damage due to the weight of the growing fetus. No matter what causes your joint pain during pregnancy, it is important to be careful what you use to treat it, since some supplements and medications could affect your future child.
Pelvic Girdle Pain
Over the course of a pregnancy, the joints of the pelvis begin to loosen. This allows the baby to be born more easily when the time comes, but it can also produce pain. Discomfort relating to pelvic girdle joints often becomes worse when the weight of the pregnancy causes changes in posture and the center of gravity.
While most patients experience this kind of discomfort gradually, some find that it happens suddenly after a fall or exercise. Doctors recommend managing this pain with lifestyle changes, mobility aids and some medications.
Pain in the Feet and Ankles
Ankle, foot and lower leg pains are also very common in pregnancy. These are due to edema, or swelling and fluid retention in the joints. This occurs when the growing uterus presses against major blood vessels, causing circulatory problems. Elevating the feet when you sit or lie down can reduce the amount of fluid buildup. You can also wear supportive stockings and avoid standing or crossing your legs for a long period of time.
Aching back joints and muscles happen in a majority of pregnancies. This condition is due to the added weight and balance problems that come with carrying your baby-to-be. If your back pain becomes severe, report it to your doctor right away. For less serious cases, make sure you avoid high heels and chairs without back support. Try to maintain the best posture possible, avoid heavy lifting, and consider changing your sleep position. Use gentle massage, exercise and heat to reduce the pain as much as possible before resorting to medication.
Joint Pain in the Hands and Wrists
Surprisingly, the changes that occur during pregnancy can affect even non-weight bearing parts of the body such as the wrists and hands. Many patients suffer from a burning sensation in these areas caused by inflammation of the carpal tunnels. Swelling and hormonal changes in the second and third trimesters make this condition especially likely.
While natural supplements such as green-lipped mussel powder are often used to deal with normal joint inflammation, you should consult your doctor before taking them while pregnant, since there is little data about their safety and effectiveness during this time. You can also use heat and cold compresses, massage, exercise and support splints to help manage the problem.