Joint Pain During Pregnancy

You’ve experienced the morning sickness, you’ve wanted to fall asleep at your desk at work many times, now you’re having pregnancy joint pain. This is a very common discomfort during pregnancy and is just another one of the major changes your body is going through. Things like hormones, circulation problems, poor posture and pressure from the uterus can all wreak havoc on your joints. There are things you can do at home to help relieve joint pain during pregnancy. Read on to see what causes it and what you can do to feel better.

What Causes Joint Pain During Pregnancy?

If you are suffering from joint pain during pregnancy and stiffness in your knees, hips, elbows and even your fingers, there are a combination of reasons this happens:

  • Hormones. The hormone Relaxin that is produced by the ovary causes your muscles and tendons to stretch and relax in preparation for childbirth. This can cause everything to shift and strain the joints.
  • Extra Weight. Putting on extra weight can strain the joints. This is more common in first pregnancy. Too much exercise in the third trimester of pregnancy can make your legs hurt from extra weight.
  • History of Arthritis. If you already have arthritis or an auto-immune condition, you might experience worsening symptoms during pregnancy. Let your OB/GYN know this so they can manage your condition.
  • Hypothyroidism. They will most likely test your thyroid at your first prenatal visit. If you are suffering from excessive joint pain, let your doctor know and they can re-test. Low thyroid can cause pregnancy complications.
  • Position During Sleep. It is recommended that pregnant women sleep on their left side if possible. This increases blood flow to the uterus. Only using one position can strain the joints and cause stiffness in the morning.
  • Extra Fluids. Excess fluids in the body and joints can trigger joint pain. This is most common in the small joints of the hands.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain. This is a common area for joint pain in the lower back. Caused by the weight of the baby and uterus, it can keep you from moving around much.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Pain in your wrists and hands could be the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy.
  • Knee Pain. This is mainly caused by extra fluids, but also made worse from extra weight.

How to Relieve Joint Pain During Pregnancy

If you have joint pain during pregnancy, you will want to discuss treatment options with your doctor first. There are a few easy things you can do right at home:

  1. Use and Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever

Check with your doctor first, but you can try an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) to help relieve swelling and pain. For just pain, try acetaminophen.

  1. Get a Massage

Visit a massage therapist that is trained in prenatal massage techniques. This can help reduce joint pain, swelling, and pain in the lower back. It can help relieve those pregnancy headaches and tension.

  1. Try the following easy home remedies:
  • Get plenty of rest with your feet up
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Try cold/hot packs directly on the joints
  • Avoid shoes with heels
  • Use relaxation and breathing
  • Use proper posture
  • Avoid sleeping on your back

It is normal to have some joint pain during pregnancy. If the pain becomes moderate to severe, you need to let your doctor know. Pregnancy joint pain could be a sign of something more serious if it becomes severe. Also, lower back pain can be a symptom of labor.

Video that Shows Exercise for Joint Pain During Pregnancy:

Others' Experiences of Joint Pain During Pregnancy

Sherryl, 36 weeks pregnant

“This is my 36th week of pregnancy and I recently started having joint pain in all my joints. I also have very swollen fingers. At night when I need to get up to use the restroom, my hands can’t even grip the doorknob to open it. I checked in with my doctor and she says this is normal. My blood pressure and protein levels are normal so she said it isn’t preeclampsia. My doctor did let me know it is very important to drink extra water to help pull off the excess fluids.”

Lindsey, mother of two

“My first pregnancy at age 21 I didn’t have any problems at all. However, when I had my second baby at age 32 I experienced a lot of joint pain. It felt like full blown arthritis in my hands. The pain was so bad it made me cry. At my prenatal check-ups I let the doctor know what was going on and he said that this was a normal problem with pregnancy. I still felt like something wasn’t right because I just didn’t feel well. They did a blood sugar screening and found out that I had Gestational Diabetes. As soon as they put me on insulin shots, the pain completely went away. I am letting you know that if you feel something is wrong, please get checked.”

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