You’re probably noticing multiple body changes right now. In addition to the normal physical changes, it is common to experience increased joint and muscle pain during pregnancy. Increased weight puts pressure on the knees and may exacerbate knee pain. You may also notice that your joints seem looser and that you feel like you waddle when you walk. This is all very normal, but it can easily lead to the question about how to treat joint pain naturally during pregnancy.
How to Treat Joint Pain Naturally During Pregnancy
Gaining water weight may increase stiffness in the feet, hips, knees, and ankles. Water weight gain may also worsen carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain and tingling in the fingers. Make sure to consult your doctor if your joint pain becomes worse or if you experience tingling and/or numbness in your hands or feet.
Also notify your doctor of any water weight gain, such as in the face or severe swelling of your hands. Specifically, it is important to contact your doctor immediately if you notice sudden swelling or water weight gain, particularly in the legs.
Aside from joint pain due to normal physical changes during pregnancy, joint pain during pregnancy may also be due to arthritis. Arthritis is a condition in which the joints become inflamed. Some women may find their arthritis becomes worse during pregnancy; however, others may experience less severe symptoms.
Treating Joint Pain and Knee Pain During Pregnancy
- Exercise: Regular exercise improves range of motion and can help keep your joints flexible. Low impact exercise, such as walking and swimming, is gentler on the joints.
- Hot and Cold Therapy:
- Try taking a hot shower or bath.
- Use a heating pad or electric blanket on your joints.
- Place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on your joints.
- Massage: Massage therapy has been shown to treat joint pain and stiffness, as well as improve the range of motion and walking.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture may be able to help alleviate joint pain.
- Splints: Splints may be used to provide relief, particularly in the hands and knees.
- Herbal supplements: Some herbal supplements may also be used for joint pain. However, in order to prevent harmful drug interactions, it is important to consult your doctor or an herbal specialist before taking a supplement.
- Omega-3s: Including foods rich in omega-3s in your diet and/or taking an omega-3 supplement may help relieve joint pain and stiffness.
- Rest: Take time to rest to give your joints a break. Relaxation exercises as well as putting your feet up may also help alleviate knee and ankle pain.
- Footwear: Wearing high heels puts a strain on your ankles and feet. Instead, try to wear shoes that provide adequate support.
- Support: If your joint pain is getting in the way of your daily activities, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) is another fatty acid that is used to alleviate joint pain. However, it should not be taken during pregnancy as it may induce labor and pose risk to the fetus. Likewise, turmeric, although used to relieve joint pain, should not be used during pregnancy.
When Natural Treatments Don’t Work
Acetaminophen is a possible alternative to relieve mild joint pain. Whether pregnant or not, it is important to limit your dosage and frequency because excessive use of the medication is associated with liver damage. Soothing ointments or creams that contain methyl salicylate should be avoided.
If natural remedies do not relieve your pain, consult your doctor about safe medications to take during pregnancy. It is also important to talk with your doctor if you were taking arthritis medication before pregnancy. Some medications are not safe to take during pregnancy, so your doctor may need to give you a new prescription.
Want to Know More?
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. A.D.A.M, Inc. (2013). Gamma-linoleic acid.
2. Bernstein, S. (n.d.). Benefits of massage.
3. Ellis, M. E. (2013, July 30). Natural relief from arthritis pain.
4. Gruenwald, J., Brendler, T., & Jaenicke, C. (Eds.). (2007). PDR for herbal medicines. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc.
KidsHealth. (2012). Questions and answers.
5. Pietrangelo, A. (2014). Arthritis during pregnancy: Symptoms, treatments, and remission.
6. University of Washington Department Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. (n.d.). Pregnancy and arthritis.