During pregnancy, the mother’s body works overtime to assist in the growth and development of the fetus. In particular, the extra weight that is suddenly part of the woman’s body creates an added stressor on the joints and muscles.
As a result, the pregnant woman becomes more vulnerable to certain musculoskeletal issues during her pregnancy. By understanding the issues that can develop, mothers-to-be can become better prepared in seeking treatment, prevention, and recovery after the baby is born.
Let’s talk about some of the most common orthopedic issues that tend to happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy.
A natural effect of carrying around excess weight in your body, the development of knee pain is very common among pregnant women. This is one of the main reasons why it is recommended to rest during pregnancy and not strain yourself, especially in the later months as the baby gets heavier.
Low Back Pain
Another result of the extra weight gained during pregnancy, the mother’s spine has to support the weight of the fetus as it grows – and this can cause lower back pain. Most of the new weight is imbalanced, as the baby is in the center of the body rather than equally distributed, as would happen during normal weight gain.
Consequently, the spine has to compensate to keep the body balanced and straight. Muscles of the lower back need to work harder than usual, while the backbone itself has to support more weight. Thus, posture also changes to accommodate the growing fetus, and the spine must adjust.
The spine consists of alternating sections of bone (vertebrae) and cartilage (discs). These discs of cartilage help cushion the bones of the spine and permit movement.
However, these protective discs can endure massive pressure during pregnancy due to the weight of the fetus and the corresponding increased compression forces. These discs can therefore bulge out and press against the spinal cord, causing pain.
Slipped discs are the most common spine injury for pregnant women. Hence, pregnant women who have significant back pain should report to their doctors to check if a herniated disc is present. Conservative treatments for slipped discs include physical therapy and management of symptoms.
The feet each contain a thick band of connective tissue called the fascia, which supports the arch of the foot and extends from the heel to the toes. Rapid weight gain, such as during pregnancy, can increase the stressors on the fascia, thereby causing sharp heel pain.
Treatments for plantar fasciitis during pregnancy are usually conservative. Cold compresses can help to calm inflammation and pain, and your orthopedist may give you a cortisone shot to help quell the foot pain.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve delicately rests inside the wrists, through the channel called the carpal tunnel, to help you feel and move your fingers (except your pinky). Water retention, which is a common side effect of pregnancy, can cause swelling in the carpal tunnel. Symptoms such as tingling and weakness in the fingers can occur when this happens.
Conventional treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include cold compresses and splints. These treatments will help to reduce the swelling and limit unnecessary wrist movement.
Orthopedic Doctors in Northeast Tennessee
Many orthopedic issues can occur during pregnancy due to the rapid growth of the fetus. Most of these conditions occur because the bones, muscles, and joints have to support the increased load.
Getting proper orthopedic care is key to a healthy pregnancy. If you are in or near Johnson City, Kingsport, or Bristol, visit us at Watauga Orthopaedics. Our team of medical experts will help detect any orthopedic problems and provide the treatment you need.
Call our offices today at (423) 282-9011 or request an appointment now through our online form. We look forward to helping you take care of your body during your pregnancy so you can thrive once the little one is born!