Common Orthopaedic Problems During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a delicate state when a female body undergoes multiple changes to accommodate a new life. As many changes take place in the nine-month gestation period, pregnant women become prone to many injuries and orthopedic problems. Nowadays, fast lifestyles and poor engagement in physical activities by mothers has led to an ever-increasing number of orthopedic problems occurring during pregnancy.
General Cause of Pregnancy Related Orthopedic Problems
The following points are some of the causes and resulting problems that expecting mothers can face during pregnancy.
A Rise in Hormone Levels: During pregnancy, there is a growth of female hormone levels. Two particular hormones – relaxin and estrogen, cause the ligaments of the spine and pelvis to relax in order to accommodate the growing baby. Later in pregnancy, this facilitates the passage of the child through the birth canal. Unfortunately, such changes usually lead to instability of joints, which becomes a cause of pain and various orthopedic conditions.
Postural Imbalances: Many times, pregnant women may suffer from postural imbalances, and a shift in their center of gravity. This is due to the growing baby in the womb. For this reason, expecting mothers should take care to carry and walk properly. If not, this can lead to orthopedic problems in the long run.
Back Pain and Weakening of Muscles: A common problem experienced by pregnant women is intense back pain. The reason for this is, the growing baby ends up putting stress on the spinal muscles. A result of this is that the spinal muscles tend to weaken, resulting in back pain. Another reason is, the increase in abdominal girth leads to excessive stretching of the abdominal muscles. This stretching weakens the muscles over time. As the abdominal muscles are not able to provide the core strength that a mother requires, it aggravates the back pain.
Nutrition Shortage: During pregnancy, proper nutrition and food intake is extremely important for both the mother and the child. Over or under nutrition can cause problems for the mother. Obesity, being overweight, reduced protein consumption, and vitamin deficiencies can result in muscular weakness, reduced strength, and body flexibility.
Common Conditions that Occur during Pregnancy
The above-mentioned issues can lead to a variety of orthopedic, and other health problems.
Back Pain: According to medical journals from the US National Library of Medicine, 50-70% women suffer from back pain during pregnancy. Most of the time, this pain resolves after child birth. However, in some cases, the back pain becomes chronic.
Coccydynia or Tail Bone Pain: During pregnancy, the body releases hormones such as relaxin and estrogen to relax the ligaments of the pelvic region. This takes place to accommodate the growing baby. The tailbone also moves as a result of this process. The increased mobility of the tailbone can result in back pain and injuries. These are especially acute when the patient has been sitting in one position for a long period of time.
Sacroiliitis: An injury of the ligament in the sacroiliac region can lead to joint instability. This can cause arthritis of the sacroiliac joint, which is known as sacroiliitis. These injuries take place due to increased ligament laxity and gait disturbance, which are conditions commonly experienced by pregnant women. Sacroiliitis is characterized by pain felt either within the buttocks, or on one or both sides of the thigh.
Flat Feet and Plantar Fasciitis: Hormones released during pregnancy can lead to increased weight, and instability of foot ligaments. As a result of this, the arches of the foot lose their normal shape and become flat. Hence, this condition is called flat feet. However, flat feet are an initial stage of a more harmful condition. If not dealt with proper medication and rest, flat feet can advance to a condition where the soft tissues of the sole become swollen and irritated. This advanced condition is known as plantar fasciitis. Symptoms include stiffness and pain in the foot and sole while walking, especially in the morning after waking up.
Solutions to Prevent Orthopedic Problems during Pregnancy
Given below are a few preventive solutions that can be used to help a woman prepare herself for orthopedic problems that occur during pregnancy.
It is always advisable for women to improve the abdominal muscles and back muscle tone even before planning parenthood.
Regular exercises and yoga postures under the guidance of experienced therapists can help in improving the strength and flexibility of the body’s muscles.
Avoid sleeping on the back. Sleeping on the sides is preferable.
Use footwear with proper cushioning and stable support.
Expecting mothers should start performing antenatal exercises, which need to be maintained during pregnancy under the guidance of an expert.
Follow proper diet and maintain good nutrition. If required, take supplements to boost the body’s nutrient levels.
Most of the above-mentioned conditions can be resolved by performing simple exercises, and by taking certain pain killers prescribed by your doctor.
If taking painkillers is not advisable, then certain methods like ultrasound can be used to reduce chronic pain.
Performing a range of motion and stretching exercises can help strengthen and restore the mobility of the joints.
Special ergonomic products designed for different symptoms can also be very helpful.
By understanding the various conditions that occur during pregnancy, expecting mothers will be a in a better position to look after themselves during the nine month gestation period. However, it is extremely important that a pregnant woman always consult with a doctor before performing any of the steps mentioned above.