The ‘Aches and Pains’ of Pregnancy

The ‘Aches and Pains’ of Pregnancy

Our bodies go through many physical changes in pregnancy and for some women this can lead to discomfort and pain caused by the extra pressure placed on our muscles, joints and tendons. These ‘aches and pains’ might commonly happen in the third trimester of pregnancy, but can also happen earlier, during our first or second trimesters. They are often dismissed as ‘minor,’ when in reality they can cause significant distress and interruption to our normal daily activities.

These aches and pains might include:

  • Low back and Pelvic Girdle Pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/ pain, swelling, pins and needles & stiffness in the hands and wrists
  • Rib Pain / Thoracic Spine pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Knee / Ankle and Foot pain, swelling and stiffness

Reasons for these aches and pains include:

  • Changes to your spinal posture as baby grows
  • Release of pregnancy hormones, making your ligaments softer, looser and more flexible
  • Changes to your ‘core’ muscles, allowing some muscle groups to stretch and weaken as your baby grows. Other muscles might have to work harder to compensate, therefore becoming tighter and more tense.
  • More fluid circulating around your body, placing pressure on joints and compressing nerves
  • Being overweight
  • Spending too much time in sedentary positions such as sitting / standing
  • Having musculoskeletal issues before pregnancy
  • Stress – times of prolonged anxiety and stress release stress hormones which may sensitise our soft tissues, thus heightening pain and discomfort

How will Physiotherapy help me?

Although many of these aches and pains are common in pregnancy, it is important not to ‘suffer in silence.’ Your GP, midwife or obstetrician can refer you to physiotherapy in UHG at any time during your pregnancy and up to 3 months postnatal.

Physiotherapy will help you manage your pain and discomfort, resulting in a more comfortable pregnancy.

Physiotherapy will include:

  • Group-based workshops and one-to-one assessment as appropriate
  • Advice on best posture & positioning in pregnancy
  • Appropriate individualised exercise programmes to help safely strengthen and stretch in pregnancy
  • Strategies to help you move more comfortably from lying to sitting, sitting to standing, in/out of bed, rolling over in bed, in/out of the car etc
  • Manual therapy when appropriate
  • Advice on self-management strategies such as massage techniques
  • Supports and belts to help during pregnancy

‘Red Flags’

In a very small number of pregnant women, there may be a number of symptoms that require more urgent medical attention. These include:

  • Pain and/or numbness down both legs at the same time
  • Numbness in the ‘saddle area’ (ie around the vagina, perineum or back passage)
  • Marked difficulty passing urine
  • Leakage of stool from the back passage that you cannot control
  • Dizziness, double vision or blackouts

Contact your GP / hospital team immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms.

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