How Do You Treat Joint Pain During Pregnancy?


Pregnancy is a state where a woman harbours the product of conception or harbour one or more fetuses in her womb for around 9 months. Pregnancy is not a disease or a disorder. However, pregnancy is a critical period in which two or more lives are at risk. Many health issues can arise throughout pregnancy and that’s why maternity checkups and follow-ups are really important. Good maternity care will ensure a safer pregnancy and delivery. In Malaysia, if you go to the public healthcare facilities, you will be given a pink book to record the well-being of your baby and you. Your book will be labelled with a specific colour sticker depending on how risky your pregnancy is. Get answers for pregnancy-related problems online from a qualified and registered medical doctor to guide you throughout your pregnancy. Do not jeopardize your life and the life of your baby by ignoring evidence-based maternity care provided by modern medical facilities and professionals.

During pregnancy, many changes will take place. There will be physical, emotional, and hormonal changes. Normal changes are expected throughout pregnancy. On the other hand, abnormal changes will require medical intervention. Due to many changes, the musculoskeletal system is one of the body systems which will be affected. Pregnant ladies may develop back pain, generalized joint pain, and tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons). Pregnancy will cause a woman to gain around 11 to 15 kg. Weight gain, shifting of the centre of the gravity, and hormonal changes will cause alteration and straining to muscles and joints.

The musculoskeletal changes that happened to a pregnant lady are:

  • The force and pressure to some joint might increase up to two folds
  • Instability of the spine due to increase joint laxity results in straining of the back muscles
  • Vaginal lengthening and genital widening
  • Stability of the joints from the pelvis to the feet will be affected due to increased laxity of the ligaments
  • Fluid retention that may compress vital structures like the nerves
  • The curvature of the lower back increases
  • Forward bending of the neck
  • The shoulders shifted downwards
  • Stretching of the abdominal muscles strain the muscle of the back even more

The above changes are highly influenced by the secretion of a hormone called relaxin, estrogen, and progesterone. The above changes cause joint pain. Low back pain which may affect the muscles, joints and the spinal disc is very common. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be done to detect any harm. In general, joint pain management in pregnancy involves many strategies and interventions. Medications, physical therapy, exercises, and complementary therapies like acupuncture are useful in treating joint pain during pregnancy. Painkillers can be given if required. Acetaminophen is the drug of choice. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can only be given and consumed by pregnant ladies from 12 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Opioid based painkillers should be avoided by any means.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may experience a worsening of symptoms during pregnancy. Such cases will require specific treatment for rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy. The following should be done to reduce and minimize back pain during pregnancy:

  • Sleep on a firm mattress
  • Do not lift or attempt to lift heavy objects
  • Use only low heeled shoes with a good arch support
  • Squat down, bend knees, and keep back straight if lifting any objects
  • Sit on a chair which has a good back support
  • Massage the painful area
  • Apply heat on the painful area

Have enough rest and do not hesitate to see a doctor if the joint pain is unbearable.