Knee Pain During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman experiencing knee pain

During pregnancy there are a lot of changes that take place in your body. Due to these physical changes, it is normal to experience knee pain and sore joints during pregnancy. This is pain is because of the extra weight your body is carrying which puts pressure on your joints.

Knee Pain during Early Pregnancy

You will continue gaining weight throughout the nine months of your pregnancy. This will exert pressure on your uterus, joints, and ligaments leading to the start of knee pain during early pregnancy and the first trimester. Hormonal changes also play a key role in causing sore knees during early pregnancy.

Types of Knee Pain during Pregnancy

Here are some different types of knee pain during pregnancy –

  • You may experience dull and continuous pain in your knees which may be occurring due to an injury to your ligaments and soft tissues. The pain can get sharper if your knee is stabbed by something sharp
  • You may experience a pain in your knees which may be occurring if you stand or walk for too long resulting in achy joints

Causes of Knee Pain during Pregnancy

A pregnant woman experiencing knee pain.

Several reasons can cause knee pain during pregnancy. A few of them are listed below:

  • Hormonal changes – During the third trimester, hormones are released to loosen up the pelvic ligaments and tendons in preparation for childbirth. They not only loosen up ligaments in the pelvic area but also cause looseness in other ligaments and tendons, including around the knees. The kneecap may not exactly track right, resulting in knee cramps while pregnant.
  • The strain on veins – Pregnancy may increase strain or pressure on your veins in your knees and legs, causing knee pain
  • Weight gain – The most common cause of knee pain during pregnancy is the gradual increase in your weight. It will put a strain on your knees, especially in case it is your first baby as your body will not be used to supporting the extra weight.
  • Excess work out – If you exercise too much during your pregnancy, knee pain can develop. Exercises like squats are beneficial during pregnancy but also weaken the knees. Make sure to perform knee strengthening exercises as well after squatting.
  • Injury – In some case, your knee pain can actually be the result of an injury like a strain or fall, and not because of your changing body. If you experience extreme knee pain, then consult a doctor immediately as it might be a serious injury.
  • Excess walking or standing – Sometimes knee pain can be just due to excess walking or standing throughout the day. Your knees will be forced to carry the weight for longer periods of time that way and you will develop pain.
  • Calcium deficiency – Calcium deficiency in your bones can also be the cause of knee pain in pregnancy
  • Changed point of gravity – If you move or exercise too much during pregnancy, your body switches its centre of gravity and put unbalanced pressure on your knees, causing pain.

Complications Associated with Pregnancy Knee Pain

If not checked, knee pain during pregnancy can cause future complications:

  • If you suffer from knee pain during pregnancy, you stand a risk of developing osteoarthritis later which is a degenerative joint disease which occurs due to wear and tear of cartilage around the knee. This disease will cause joint stiffness, locking of knee joints and severe pain.
  • Too much extra weight will put pressure on the knees and cause damage to the protective cartilage and ligament around the joints. This can cause difficulties with walking, bending and running in the long run if left unchecked.

How Knee Pain is Treated during Pregnancy

Knee pain is usually due to one of two reasons – either due to an injury or due to effects of your pregnancy. The former needs medical intervention but the latter can be treated in the following natural ways –

  • Knee strengthening exercises can help in treating the knee pain
  • Eat calcium-rich foods to sustain and balance the amount of calcium in your body
  • Check not to put on excess weight
  • Try placing a heating pad or ice pack on your knees for some relief
  • Keep your feet up most of the time and take plenty of rest
  • Consume more omega-3 rich foods and herbal supplements in with your daily meals. For this, remember to consult a doctor first.

Home Remedies for Knee Pain in Pregnant Women

The good thing is that these pains will subside after you have delivered your baby. But till then, here are a few home remedies to alleviate your discomfort –

  1. Try low impact exercises to strengthen the muscles in your knees. Of course, you will have to consult your doctor before you try any of the exercises at this time.
  2. Wear well-cushioned shoes. Padded shoes absorb shock and protect your knees as well.
  3. Sit with your feet propped up, this will give immediate pain relief as the weight is off your legs
  4. Look for a knee brace. These things support your ligaments and tendons, especially if you have swollen knees during pregnancy
  5. Make sure you are not overeating and gaining weight unnecessarily. It is normal to put on 35 pounds in pregnancy.
  6. Stick to a good diet and do not over-indulge during your cravings. Stick to a healthy diet to control your weight. This is the best way to prevent knee pain during pregnancy
  7. Ask your doctor if you can take small doses of acetaminophen during pregnancy
  8. Massage therapy can help joint pain and stiffness
  9. Splints may be used, particularly in the hands and feet to provide relief

How can you Prevent Knee Pain during Pregnancy?

You can do very little to prevent natural knee pain during pregnancy, until and unless the pain is due to an injury. Here are some things you can do to try and prevent it –

  • You can try hot or cold packs to ease the pain from sore joints.
  • Always consult with a doctor before taking over-the-counter medication. Doctors usually allow acetaminophen for analgesia during pregnancy.
  • Some herbal supplements can be used to prevent joint pain after a doctor consultation
  • Include foods rich in Omega-3 in your diet to prevent joint pain
  • Take adequate rest to give your knees and joints a break

When to Consult a Doctor?

Being overweight during pregnancy will mostly lead to knee pain. The pain also may be caused by some other reason and you need to know when to go to a doctor:

  • If your knee pain is not due to any injuries, the best option to find out the actual reason is to take a medical opinion from your doctor.
  • If you have been around anyone who has been infected by the erythrovirus (also called the fifth disease), you must go immediately to a doctor as a risk of birth defect is associated with it. This is a rare phenomenon so there is no need to panic.

Knee pain is just one of the many changes that your body will experience during and after pregnancy. But with the simple methods listed above, you will be able to make it through your pregnancy with minimal knee pain.

Also Read:

Back Pain during Pregnancy
Boils and Bumps in Pregnancy
Chest Pain during Pregnancy