There’s a baby on the way! During your pregnancy, body parts change, shift, stretch, and expand. Hormones are in a frenzy like a team of event planners trying their best to get every detail perfect in time for the big event because it is, indeed, a big, wonderful event coming your way.
Hip pain in pregnancy is not unusual. Those body changes often cause lower back and hip pain. Pregnancy stresses the musculoskeletal system, which is a chiropractor’s specialty. It may not occur to some pregnant women to turn to chiropractic care to ease their pain, but we are ready and able to do just that.
Can pregnancy cause hip pain? It can. Let’s take a look at that pain and how chiropractic treatments can provide significant relief. The more your pain is managed, the more you can focus on the new little person making a debut in the next few months.
Hip Pain During Pregnancy
Changes in Your Body
Your body goes through tremendous changes throughout your pregnancy to accommodate a growing baby and prepare you for delivery. Hormones flow, dietary needs increase, your center of gravity shifts, muscles and tissues stretch and swell, and internal organs are crowded out of the way of an enlarging uterus.
It is not unusual to gain between 20 and 40 pounds during pregnancy. The added weight plus a growing belly can pressure your lower back, increase the spinal curvature, and throw your posture off-balance. In addition, you may experience inflammation and edema as your blood volume increases by as much as 50 percent.
In preparation for childbirth, your pelvic bones soften, and the surrounding muscles relax. Softened bones and relaxed muscles can be more easily pushed out of alignment or injured.
There are multiple causes of hip pain during pregnancy—a cascade of effects. All of these changes can create varying levels of discomfort and pain as you advance through each trimester.
During pregnancy, about ten primary hormones rush through your body. One of these hormones, namely relaxin, originates in the ovaries and helps the growth of the placenta and implantation of the fertilized egg. During childbirth, the baby needs space to pass through the bony pelvis. Relaxin softens pelvic bones and ligaments and loosens cartilage and tendons to prepare for birth.
The effects of relaxin certainly help when you’re in labor, and it’s time to push. But while you’re still pregnant, your hips become unstable. They’re loose and trying to create space. You can’t hold them in their proper place, and that stresses your body. In addition to any pain this may cause, you may also feel unsteady and unbalanced.
Hip pain while pregnant is relatively common. Of course, hip pain and pregnancy are more closely linked in late pregnancy as the growing baby adds pressure.
About 20 percent of pregnant women have this experience. In one study, as many as 32 percent of participating pregnant women reported hip pain. Another study reported that 75 percent of participants experienced pelvic or lower back pain.
For each pregnant woman, hip pain can mean one of several things— “low back pain slightly to the side, the pain almost exactly on the side of the leg or hip, or pain on the front of the hip.” Some may also feel pain in the sacroiliac joint of the hip. In these cases, the pain travels from the hips and buttocks through the legs and the feet. You may also feel round ligament pain, which occurs in your hip as well as your abdomen and groin. Hip pain during pregnancy can sometimes make it hurt to walk.
Other contributing factors to hip pain include weight gain, poor posture, and osteoporosis. While some pain is normal, it should not be debilitating.
Many pregnant women may not realize that chiropractic treatment can complement their primary care and help alleviate months of musculoskeletal pain. Some chiropractors specialize in pregnancy care, receiving Certification by the Academy Council of Chiropractic Pediatrics (CACCP) from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). The certification program trains the chiropractor in evaluation and treatment techniques designed specifically for children and pregnant women.
Chiropractors treat musculoskeletal conditions. We are in the ideal profession to relieve pregnancy-associated pain, and we do so without medication. Instead, we use safe, gentle adjustments plus exercise, stretches, and massage to realign the spine and balance the pelvis. As chiropractic practices are gentle, non-invasive, and drug-free, the risks are minimal.
One adjustment technique specifically for pregnant women is the Webster Technique. This procedure aligns the pelvis and reduces tension in the soft tissues, ensuring ample space for the baby to grow and easing lower back and sciatic pain.
Here at Bergen Chiropractic, we often work on ankles and hips when we treat pregnant women. Relaxin can create a leg-length discrepancy. Your hips rotate one way or the other, sometimes in opposite directions. We check for alignment, which can be anatomical, but it’s frequently from the pregnancy. We treat this with a muscle energy technique for getting hips back into a neutral position, starting from the 34th or 36th week, if necessary.
Pregnant women can enjoy a wide array of benefits from chiropractic treatments, including:
- Pain relief
- Increased mobility
- Increased quality time with the family
- Improved sleep quality and duration
- Proper fetal position
- Decreased labor and delivery times
- An overall increase in happiness about the pregnancy experience
Adding chiropractic services to your regular obstetric care can improve your pregnancy experience by affording you less pain and more comfort. Your body is better able to adapt to the constant changes and stress that come with pregnancy. Chiropractic care can also reduce dependency on medications.
Pregnancy takes your body through a long list of changes, many of which can cause pain in your hips and lower back. Adding chiropractic treatment to your regular obstetric care can significantly decrease your discomfort and pain. It may even reduce your need for medications, which is excellent for your baby.
Your pregnancy should be a wonderful time in your life. However, there will always be some discomfort throughout your journey. Having a chiropractor on your team can help manage and minimize that pain, so you can focus on welcoming your new child into the world.
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services!