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During pregnancy, you are bound to experience certain changes in your body, but some of these changes can be unbearable. The physical changes your body will go through during pregnancy can result in increased joint pain and muscle pain. Hormonal changes during this time combined with the weight of growing belly may also put pressure on the uterus and you may find it difficult to maintain a correct posture. This too can stress your joints and result in intense discomfort. Here we’ll tell you what is joint pain, its causes, and how it can be treated.
What Is Joint Pain?
Joint pain is a sore or stiff feeling that you may experience in any of the body’s joints. These body parts include the elbows, knees, fingers, ankles, and hips.
Causes of Joint Pain in Pregnancy
The reason for joint pain in women may reflect her health. But there are a few common reasons that lead to joint pain in many women.
- During pregnancy, hips, knees, and ankles usually are under pressure and pain due to weight gain. As the increasing weight requires extra support and better weight distribution, you may feel discomfort around these joints.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome which occurs due to excessive fluid gain can also put pressure on your wrist, leading to pain in both, your wrist and hand.
- Hypothyroidism is a condition when your thyroid glands do not produce enough thyroid hormone. The condition leads to weight gain and can also cause excessive pain in the joint during pregnancy.
- When you are pregnant, your ovaries release a hormone called relaxin that prepares your pelvic muscles and tendons by stretching and relaxing them. However, it may also loosen ligaments around the joints putting additional strain on them, causing pain.
- Pregnant women are recommended that they sleep on the left side. However, sleeping on one side through the night may make the body stiff and cause joint pains, especially at the hips.
- A medical history of arthritis or disk problem can lead to constant pain in the joints during pregnancy. The symptoms of the condition may even get worse when you are pregnant.
- The weight of the baby and the uterus can cause something called sacroiliac joint pain, which results in pain, in the lower back and may even restrict movement to an extent.
- If you are sitting and working for long hours during pregnancy, you may also be prone to joint pain.
Doctors usually conduct a biochemical blood analysis to check for lack of any micro-elements and calcium. Deficiency of calcium can also be a reason for joint pain.
Although, if you have a history of auto-immune diseases like arthritis, spondylitis, osteoarthritis, etc, your medical history and medication will be checked during your prenatal visit to rule out any complications.
Acetaminophen, in very small doses, may be given to pregnant women. However, it is absolutely essential that you check with your doctor about its suitability before taking this medicine, as it is linked to liver damage when used excessively.
One of the best ways to treat sore joints during pregnancy is to follow simple home remedies. Some of the remedial measures you could try include.
- Try Hot and Cold Therapy: You can take a hot shower or place electric heating pads on your joints. You can also use an ice pack wrapped in a towel and place it over your joints.
- Use Splints: You can use splints on your hands and knees to relieve pain.
- Massage: Massaging the problem area can reduce stiffness and facilitate movement. You can also sign up for prenatal massage therapy with a licensed therapist.
- Take Herbal supplements: Certain herbal supplements like ginger extract can be used to relieve joint pain. However, you will need to ensure that these do not react with medicines by consulting a doctor and seeking medical advice.
- Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Food items rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like eggs, can be a great remedy for joint pain.
- Wear Comfortable Footwear: It is important that you wear footwear that provides proper support and stay away from heels to reduce joint pain.
- Try Light Exercises: Exercising regularly can help promote muscle movement and flexibility in joints. However, it is important that you do not push yourself too much or you might end up straining your joints. Swimming and water aerobics are gentle and can help relieve joint pain.
- Get Some Sleep: Get enough sleep and rest well. A well-rested body can help reduce joint pain.
- Elevate Your Feet: Put your feet up as much as you can to relieve joint pain and improve blow flow.
- Use Pregnancy Pillow – Use a ‘U’ or ‘C’-shaped pregnancy pillow while sleeping.
When to Consult a Doctor
If the home remedies do not help with the pain you can reach out to your doctor and ask for medication. Communicate with your doctor about any arthritis or other medications that you may be on. You may need to get a different prescription for it as many drugs are considered unsafe during pregnancy.
Keeping your body healthy by exercising and following a balanced diet can help reduce the intensity of pain to an extent. You can alleviate a large portion of your joint pain with these simple measures.
Also Read: 10 Effective Pregnancy Sleep Tips