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How to relieve joint pain during pregnancy

How to relieve joint pain during pregnancy
3 minutes, 35 seconds

The sacroiliac (SI) joints are the joints that link the pelvis with the lower spine. Each person has two sacroiliac joints. There is one sacroiliac joint on each side of the pelvis, and they both have ligaments that keep the bones connected together. A few reasons for this type of joint pain may be due to arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, a traumatic injury, scoliosis, spinal fusion surgery, and even pregnancy. To learn more about why pregnancy might cause sacroiliac joint pain and what symptoms of this joint pain might look like, keep reading below.

Why might pregnancy cause the SI joint to hurt?

  • Weight changes — During pregnancy, the body gains weight. Most of this weight is from the growing baby, but it can also be because the body is keeping extra fat for breast milk to feed the baby. The additional weight can add stress to the sacroiliac joints around the pelvis and lower back, causing joint pain.
  • Posture changes — When a person becomes pregnant, their abdominal muscles expand to conform to the baby growing inside the uterus. When the abdominal muscles become stretched, the lower back has a greater chance of coming out of alignment. Posture changes during pregnancy can lead to greater incidences of joint pain for some people.
  • Hormone changes — Those who are pregnant begin to release a hormone called relaxin, which is responsible for a lot of changes in the muscles and ligaments in their body. It causes the muscles and ligaments to loosen or relax, which may add more stress to the sacroiliac joints in the pelvis and lower back.

What are some symptoms of SI joint pain?

Sacroiliac joint pain can often be hard to diagnose because the symptoms are so similar to many other conditions. Here are a few of the symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower parts of the abdomen — People with SI joint pain most often feel pain in the lower region of their abdomen. This usually includes the lower back, hips, groin and buttocks. Pain could even radiate farther down into the legs for some patients. The pain could be sharp and stabbing, but for others it may be dull and aching.
  • Numbness or tingling — Many patients report experiencing numbness or tingling in the areas of the sacroiliac joints in conjunction with joint pain.
  • Weakness or instability in the legs — Joint pain near the pelvis and lower back can lead to prolonged sitting or immobility, which can then cause muscle weakness and limited range of motion in the joints around the legs.

What might make these symptoms of SI joint pain worse?

SI joint pain symptoms like the ones listed above can worsen or become aggravated with activities such as running, extensive periods of standing, and sitting in one place for too long, just to name a few.  

What can you do for SI joint pain relief during pregnancy?

  • Take a pain reliever with your doctor’s approval — If you experience regular joint pain in your lower back and buttocks during your pregnancy, you may want to take pain medicine. If your pain interferes with your regular activities, pain medication can be a good short-term relief option. It’s just important to make sure that your doctor has given you the green light to take medications of this kind. Most doctors recommend acetaminophen, but it’s important to verify this with your own physician.
  • Invest in a maternity support belt — For potential relief during the term of your pregnancy, you could invest in a maternity support belt. These belts help take the pressure off your joints and evenly distribute the weight throughout your body. 
  • Schedule regular sessions with a physical therapist —Scheduling physical therapy sessions can be a great way to work at alleviating pain in the sacroiliac joints for pregnant women. Physical therapy can help ease pressure and stress placed on the joints and improve joint flexibility. A physical therapist can build a personalized treatment plan to improve range of motion in the sacroiliac region and help you manage your painful or uncomfortable symptoms.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for SI joint pain during pregnancy

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address SI joint pain during pregnancy.  Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.  Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

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