Ways to Find Relief from Joint Pain During Pregnancy

Joint pain during pregnancy is common, maybe even universal — it’s certainly universally frustrating. Changes to the body that happen during pregnancy cause the ideal environment/perfect storm that leads to joint soreness:

  • Changing center of gravity (causing you to change how you stand, sit, sleep, walk, etc.)
  • Hormone relaxin, which loosens/relaxes joints
  • Weight gain causes increased/new stress on joints

These aren’t preventable, but joint pain and discomfort are manageable and relief is possible. The most common painful spots in pregnancy is hips, lower back, knees, and pelvic joint, all of which can be addressed using a variety of methods. 

See a physical therapist

While this may not be your first desired choice to address pain, it is the one in which you will find the most comprehensive and specific-to-you treatment. A physical therapist trained specifically in pregnancy issues will be able to assess and recommend exercises and resources for support depending on your unique bodily structure and complaints of pain. 

Abdominal and/or pelvic support (“belly band”)

Belly bands, also known as abdominal support belts and pelvic support belts offer support the lower back and growing belly, offering relief for a variety of types of joint pain during pregnancy. Healthline has a great write up on the five ways a belly band can help during pregnancy. Belly bands can be ordered online or acquired through a physical therapist or your midwife or OB. 

Additional support for sleep

The way you sleep during pregnancy often changes due to the accommodations that must be made to cope with your growth. Most people spend the last parts of their pregnancy flipping from side to side, dealing with hip and low back pain. Body pillows and/or additional regular pillows that support you in the front and back can help relieve the pressure. Putting a pillow between your legs will reduce the strain in your low back. Supporting your abdomen with a small pillow or blanket under can do the same. 

Massage

A prenatal massage has many benefits, of which relief from joint pain is just one! If your provider prescribes massage to deal with joint pain, you may be able to get it covered by insurance. Look for a massage therapist trained in prenatal massage. Massage oil/lotion with arnica can also help with joint pain. 

Heat

Heating pad and/or a warm bath can do wonders for achy, stiff joints. Add Epsom salts to your bath for added comfort. 

Strengthening exercises

Exercises that specifically work to strengthen areas of weakness can help reduce the pain caused by pregnancy. As always, talk to your midwife or doctor before starting a new exercise regimen. A physical therapist is a good resource for learning about pregnancy-specific strengthening exercises. 

Exercise

Maintaining a regular exercise routine during pregnancy is great for your overall health and well being, but it’s also good for reliving joint pain. Prenatal yoga and prenatal Pilates are especially beneficial for joint strengthening and relief. 

OTC medication 

Of course, pain relief medications also can help with joint pain during pregnancy. Talk with your provider about the best and safest medication to take. Typical anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, are not advised during the third trimester of pregnancy when joint pain can be most intense. 

 

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