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Hip and foot joint pain in late pregnancy

Updated on June 29, 2008

Although back pain is widely recognized as a common musculoskeletal concomitant of pregnancy and much has been written on the subject, little attention has been given to hip and foot joint pain in pregnant women.

A majority of these lower extremity pain begins during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Postpartum women are also more likely to develop hip pain and foot pain than are nulliparous women.

Medical research has showed that there was a trend toward older age as a risk factor as well, which is absolutely the case according to my personal experience. When I was pregnant with my first child I had none of the symptoms described in many pregnancy leaflets and books, but 4 years later as a second-time mum I am suffering not only low back pain (or hip pain) also foot pain at the heel.

Cause

Pregnancy triggers many different changes in a woman's body. Due to the natural weight gain during pregnancy, a woman's center of gravity is completely altered. This causes a new weight-bearing stance and added pressure to the knees and feet.

Two of the most common foot problems experienced by pregnant woman are over-pronation and edema (swelling). These problems can lead to pain at the heel, arch, or the ball-of-foot. Many women may also experience leg cramping and varicose veins due to weight gain. Because of this, it is important to learn more about foot health during pregnancy to help make this 9 month period more comfortable.

Over-Pronation, also referred to as flat feet, is caused when a person's arch flattens out upon weight bearing and their feet roll inward when walking. This can create extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia, the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefoot.

Over-pronation can make walking very painful and can increase strain on the feet, calves and/or back. The reason many pregnant women suffer from over-pronation is the added pressure on the body as a result of weight gain. Over-pronation is also very prominent in people who have flexible, flat feet or in people who are obese.

Treatment

Over-Pronation can be treated conservatively with "ready-made" orthotics during pregnancy. These orthotics should be designed with appropriate arch support and medial rearfoot posting to correct the over-pronation. Proper fitting footwear is also very important in treating over-pronation. Choose comfortable footwear that provides extra support and shock absorption.

It is important to treat over-pronation for pain relief but also to prevent other foot conditions from developing further complications such as Heel Spurs and Post-Tib Tendonitis.

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