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Overview

Joint pain during pregnancy is a common occurrence and may involve the entire body, unfortunately.

The reason these pains occur is due to the changes that the expectant mother's body undergoes during the stages of the pregnancy.

Factors that can Affect Joints during Pregnancy

  • Hormones - relaxin, which is produced by the ovaries, causes the tendons and muscles in the body to relax in order to prepare for childbirth and this causes the joints to strain and shift.
  • History or arthritis - patients with a history of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may experience a worsening of symptoms.
  • Increased weight - extra gained weight can put pressure on already lax joints which increases the strain on them and worsens symptoms.
  • Underactive thyroid gland - hypothyroidism may cause worsening of joint symptoms so the affected individual's thyroid hormone levels need to be monitored frequently during the pregnancy.
  • Excess fluid intake - an excessive amount of fluids in the joints and body may result in increased joint pain, especially small joints such as those of the hands and wrists.
  • Sleep position - it is recommended that pregnant women lie on their left sides when sleeping as this position facilitates better blood circulation to the uterus. The other positions can lead to increased strain on the joints and lead to experiencing stiffness when getting up in the morning.
  • The presence of knee pain - possibly due to extra weight or increased fluid retention.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome - pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing this condition so the clinical presentation of this problem needs to be monitored and addressed if present. 

Relieving Joint Pain during Pregnancy

Fortunately, there are certain suggestions and recommendations that can be performed and followed at home by the affected individual which can help them feel better.

Using over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol can help relieve the joint pain experienced by most pregnant women.

If this is ineffective then one would have to consult with their primary care doctor or obstetrician to receive a prescription for medication that is safe to use during the pregnancy. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can still be used in certain stages of the pregnancy but this needs to be discussed with one's physician.

Massage therapy is clinically proven to be a very effective method for stress relief and for reducing tension in muscles. In the case of pregnant women, one would want to make use of the services of a therapist trained in prenatal massage techniques. 

The following home therapies are also suggested:

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • During the day, try getting plenty of rest and elevate the feet.
  • Avoid wearing shoes with heels as they will result in lower back, hips and knee strain.
  • Apply cold and/or warm packs or compresses directly on affected joints to help reduce swelling and improve blood circulation, respectively.
  • Use the proper posture as this helps to take pressure off the back.
  • Make use of relaxation and breathing exercises as these help to reduce stress and tension.

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