Knee Pain while Pregnant - Types, Causes, Symptoms & Remedies

Knee Pain During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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Now that you are pregnancy, slowly, you may start understanding and experiencing various changes that will take in your body, some of which can leave you all tired and exhausted. From nausea and vomiting to bodily pain and tiredness, there’s a lot coming your way before your baby actually comes out! Along with expecting certain physical changes in your body, you will also have to be ready for back pain and joint ache. Most women experience back and joint pain during pregnancy, but some pregnant ladies also complain of knee pain.

Most women experience knee pain during pregnancy due to the extra weight, which puts pressure on the joints. If you’re experiencing knee pain while pregnant, read on to know more about it and find out what you can do to treat it.

Knee Pain During Early Pregnancy

As a woman gains weight during pregnancy, usually throughout the nine months, it tends to exert pressure on her uterus, joints, and ligaments, which leads to 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

Yes, there are different types of knee pain that a woman can experience during pregnancy. Let’s take a look:

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

Causes of Knee Pain During Pregnancy

Causes of Knee Pain During Pregnancy

Several reasons can cause knee pain during pregnancy. Read on to know the various causes of knee pain during pregnancy:

1. Hormonal Changes

During the third trimester, hormones are released to loosen up the pelvic ligaments and tendons in preparation for childbirth. The hormones not only loosen up ligaments in the pelvic area, but also cause loosen other ligaments and tendons, including those around the knees. The kneecap may not exactly track right, resulting in knee cramps.

2. Strain on Veins

Pregnancy may put strain or pressure on the veins in the knees and legs, causing knee pain.

3. Weight Gain

The most common cause of knee pain during pregnancy is the gradual increase in weight. It can put a strain on your knees, especially if it is your first baby, as your body will not be used to supporting the extra weight.

4. Excessive Exercise

If you exercise too much during pregnancy, you may experience knee pain. Exercises like squats are beneficial during pregnancy, but they can also weaken the knees. Make sure to perform knee strengthening exercises after doing squats.

5. Injury

In some cases, 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, consult a doctor immediately, as it may be a serious injury.

6. Excess Walking or Standing

Sometimes, knee pain can occur due to excessive walking or standing throughout the day. Your knees will be forced to carry the weight for longer periods of time, and they will start throbbing or aching.

7. Calcium Deficiency

A calcium deficiency in your bones can also be the cause of knee pain during your pregnancy.

8. Changed Point of Gravity

If you move or exercise too much during pregnancy, your body switches its centre of gravity, and put pressure on your knees, thus causing pain.

Complications Associated With Knee Pain During Pregnancy

If not checked, examined, or monitored, knee pain during pregnancy can cause complication in the future. Following are the complications associated with knee pain in pregnancy.

  1. If you suffer from knee pain during pregnancy, you stand a risk of developing osteoarthritis later, which is a degenerative joint disease, occurring due to wear and tear of cartilage around the knee. This disease will cause joint stiffness, locking of knee joints, and severe pain.
  2. A lot of 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.

How Is Knee Pain Treated During Pregnancy?

As mentioned earlier in detail, your knee pain can be (usually) due to one of two reasons – an injury, or the effects of your pregnancy. The former needs medical intervention, but the latter can be treated in the following natural ways:

  1. Knee strengthening exercises can help in treating the pain.
  2. Eat calcium-rich foods to sustain and balance the amount of calcium in your body.
  3. Try to maintain balanced body weight.
  4. Place a heating pad or an ice pack on your knees for some relief.
  5. Keep your feet up most of the time, and take plenty of rest.
  6. Consume more omega-3 rich foods and herbal supplements with your daily meals. But, before adding anything to your diet, consult your doctor.

Home Remedies for Knee Pain in Pregnant Women

Your knee pain is temporary, and it will subside after you have delivered your baby. But, until that happens, here are a few home remedies to alleviate your discomfort:

  1. Try low-impact exercises to strengthen the muscles in your knees. Consult your doctor before you try any exercises during your pregnancy.
  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 you immediate pain relief as the weight will be off your legs.
  4. Look for a knee brace. They can support your ligaments and tendons, especially if you have swollen knees during pregnancy.
  5. Monitor your weight, and be aware of your eating habits. A gain of 15 kg is considered normal during pregnancy.
  6. Maintain a good, balanced diet, and try not to over-indulge on 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 paracetamol during pregnancy. You can take it, only if your doctor gives a go-ahead.
  8. Massage therapy can help joint pain and stiffness.
  9. Splints may be used, particularly on the hands and feet to provide relief.

How to Prevent Knee Pain During Pregnancy

You can do very little to prevent knee pain during pregnancy unless the pain is due to an injury. That being said, take a look at these measures to adopt to reduce knee pain, or to try and prevent it:

  1. Use hot or cold packs to ease the pain in sore joints.
  2. Try over-the-counter medication. But, consult your doctor first! Doctors usually allow paracetamol for analgesia during pregnancy, unless you have contraindications.
  3. Some herbal supplements can be used to prevent joint pain. Again, consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
  4. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to prevent joint pain.
  5. Take adequate rest to give your knees and joints a break.

When to Consult a Doctor

If you have gained a lot of weight during your pregnancy, it will mostly lead to knee pain. The pain also may be caused by some other reasons, as we mentioned earlier. You can visit a doctor under any of the following circumstances:

  1. If your knee pain is not due to any injuries, you can get a consult from a doctor.
  2. 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 a woman’s body will experience during her pregnancy. However, it is usually harmless, and is no cause for concern. It can be remedied with simple methods, and you will make it through your pregnancy with minimal pain.

Also Read:

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

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