Pregnancy can be an exciting journey into a new life, but it can also be hard on the body. The physical and hormonal changes that go along with pregnancy can cause joint and muscle pain, as well as pelvic issues that can affect labor and delivery. Physical therapy and chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can relieve pregnancy-related pain and discomfort and lead to a healthier, safer delivery for both mother and baby.
What Causes Muscle and Joint Pain in Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the body undergoes massive changes that can cause, or contribute to, pain in the joints and muscles, especially in the lower back. Posture can change to accommodate a growing abdomen, causing shoulders to become rounded and the back to curve. As pregnancy progresses, a woman’s center of gravity shifts, causing strain on the back muscles, thighs, and legs. Pressure on the spine can also create nervous system problems such as pain and temporary tingling and numbness in legs, feet, and hands.
Hormonal changes can contribute to joint and muscle pain during pregnancy, too. Ligaments can soften and stretch in preparation for childbirth so that they don’t provide as much support. Ankles and feet can swell, making the movement more difficult and raising the risk of muscle strains.
Pelvic muscles can also become strained or weakened as they stretch to accommodate an expanding uterus, causing aching and pain, or even limiting the space available for the growing baby in a condition called intrauterine constraint. Pelvic floor problems can also affect delivery by increasing the possibility of a breech presentation, which could lead to a cesarean delivery.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
Physical therapy is often associated with helping people recover after an accident, surgery or injury, but it can benefit those with a long list of physical conditions that cause joint and muscle pain and discomfort – including pregnancy. Physical therapists are trained healthcare professionals who use methods such as stretching, exercise, and strength training to restore flexibility and functioning.
Working with a physical therapist during pregnancy can build endurance and strength for the challenging experience of delivery, and support the body for the duration of the pregnancy itself. A typical physical therapy regimen includes both office sessions and exercises that are prescribed to do at home.
Benefits of physical therapy during pregnancy include:
- A healthier and more comfortable pregnancy overall, with fewer aches and pains, better circulation, and more flexibility and strength
- Stronger pelvic muscles, which can provide more room for the developing fetus and better positioning for birth. This kind of realignment could reduce the likelihood of a breech presentation and cesarean delivery.
- Faster, easier labor and delivery
The Role of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic medicine can be called a very specialized form of physical therapy, and it can be not only safe but greatly beneficial during pregnancy. Chiropractic focuses on the alignment of the spine, which can improve posture, relieve pain, and reduce pressure on the nerves.
Chiropractic specialists are trained to treat a variety of conditions by manipulating the spine to realign it and relieve pain caused by pressure and irritation on nerves. Like physical therapy in general, regular chiropractic sessions during pregnancy can help ease joint and muscle pain and support a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Physical therapy and chiropractic care are both non-pharmaceutical, non-invasive ways to address the commonly occurring aches and pains of pregnancy and support the body during birth. These approaches aren’t appropriate for everyone, though, so it’s important to check with your doctor about scheduling your sessions. At BeWell Medical NY, Dr. Jeffrey Jamieson will work with you to make your pregnancy journey healthier and more comfortable – for you and for your baby.
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