Pregnancy is the time that many things will happen to a woman internally. When pregnant, a woman’s body undergoes changes. These changes can have serious effects to the structure of their body. From an orthopaedic specialist’s perspective, women need to be aware of these changes to avoid injury and improve the success of their pregnancy.
Certain orthopedic conditions can be seen in pregnant women. Statistics show that approximately 50% of pregnant women suffer from low back pain. This comes from the 25-35pound weight gain from the fetus, and the awkward distribution of weight causing muscle fatigue and spasm in the back. However only about 1 in 3 women will seek professional care.
The number one treatment sought out is massage, followed by yoga, and then orthopedic care. While treatment can be difficult during pregnancy, problems seldom linger after delivery.
Pregnancy affects the musculoskeletal system. As the uterus expands to fit the size of the fetus, the woman’s center of gravity is shifted forward. The natural response of the spinal column is to tilt the pelvis back for support. The position of the fetus can also place direct pressure on the lumbo-sacral nerve roots causing pain or sciatica. As the baby grows, it may press against a nerve that provides sensation over the outside of the thigh. Some people develop numbness over a patch of skin over the thigh as a result of this nerve compression.
The growth of the baby is not the only cause of orthopedic conditions in a woman’s body. Due to the increasing amounts of the hormones that work to make the pelvis be more flexible during delivery, It also causes the pelvis and spine to be much more unstable and has the potential to misalign. Making it more likely to cause lower back pain and joint problems.
Orthopedic specialists can also help after childbirth. The weeks following labor and delivery, the ligaments that loosened during pregnancy begin to tighten up again. Back and joint problems caused by pregnancy should be treated before the ligaments return to their state to prevent muscle tension discomfort, and joint problems.
The best way to prevent orthopedic problems is having a strong back before becoming pregnant and preparing for the weight of the baby. Here are some conditions women might experience during their pregnancy:
Low Back Pain
Low back pain is the most common orthopedic complaint during pregnancy. More than half of all pregnant women experience significant back pain during pregnancy. The extra weight of the baby, and the awkward distribution of weight causes muscle fatigue and spasm in the back. While treatment can be difficult during pregnancy, problems seldom linger after delivery. Having a strong back before becoming pregnant can help your body prepare for the weight of the baby.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that compresses one of the important nerves in the wrist. Typically patients with carpal tunnel syndrome complain of pain, tingling and numbness in the fingers. Treatment can usually be accomplished with simple steps including night splints.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes pain under the heel of the foot. Often referred to as a heel spur, plantar fasciitis is often associated with rapid weight gain. During the later stages of pregnancy when women gain more weight, symptoms of plantar fasciitis may become bothersome.
Meralgia paresthetica is an unusual condition in most people, but it is quite common during pregnancy. When the baby grows, he may press against a nerve that provides sensation over the outside of the thigh. Some people develop numbness over a patch of skin over the thigh as a result of this nerve compression.
Osteitis pubis is an inflammatory condition of the pelvis. The pelvic bones are joined in the front at the pubic symphysis. This joint can become inflamed in certain conditions, including pregnancy. Osteitis pubis usually improves with rest.
Transient Osteoporosis of the Hip
Another hip condition associated with late-term pregnancy is transient osteoporosis. This condition causes abnormal bone weakening of the ball of the ball-and-socket hip joint. Treatment may involve the use of crutches or a walker to relieve weight on the affected bone.
Nutrition and Exercise
Most women only think about what are the best food they should consume so that the child can gain all the necessary nutrients to grow properly. What many women do not think of is the condition and health status of their bone. During pregnancy, the baby in the womb relies on the mum’s daily calcium intake to build the skeleton. If the supply of calcium is insufficient, it will automatically source for calcium from the mother’s bones, causing the mum to lose bone density and mass. However, this can easily be prevented through proper diet and exercises.
Calcium is the building block for bones and the baby needs a constant supply of calcium to build their skeleton. As such, the continuous intake of calcium rich food is a necessity. Some of the common foods that are rich in calcium are milk, cheese, soy bean products, broccoli, kale, tofu and cereals. It is necessary to consume at least 3 servings of foods that are rich in calcium and even when you snack in between meals, try to choose snacks that are rich in calcium such as calcium rich biscuits. The calcium intake should spread throughout the day and not only to a particular time of the day. Always try to visit your doctor as he can determine if the amount of calcium you are taking is sufficient. If there is still a deficit, he will prescribe calcium supplements for you.
Pregnant women needs a minimum of 75g of protein intake daily and the intake of protein is extremely important as they provide a source of iron which plays an important role in transporting oxygen supply to the baby to ensure optimal growth in the womb. It is recommended to consume 3 servings of protein rich food daily. Foods that are rich in protein includes beef, chicken, fish, nuts and beans. A normal serving of chicken provides around 25g of protein while a normal serving of salmon provides around 22g of protein.
Most people associate Vitamin D with the sun. They are not wrong there! We obtain most of our Vitamin D requirements from the sun and a negligible amount from the food we consume daily. Vitamin D is an important vitamin as it helps to maintain our muscle and bone density and strength. It also helps in efficient absorption of calcium from food which is important in keeping bones strong and healthy. Vitamin D helps to build up the baby’s bones and a deficiency of Vitamin D could possibly lead to rickets, a form of bone deformity in the baby. You should always visit the doctor to perform a blood test to determine your Vitamin D levels in the body and if you are lacking in it, the doctor will prescribe Vitamin D supplements for you.
Foods that are rich in protein, vitamin D and calcium helps to build strong bones which are not only important in pregnant mums but also in normal people. Most of the foods are actually tasty and are what we consume on a daily basis. For lactose intolerant people, you can always obtain your daily calcium intake from soy products. Always aim to take more calcium and reduce the risk of osteoporosis when you grow older.