For some women leg pain during pregnancy (especially in the third trimester) is just a common symptom as morning weakness, fatigue or back pain. Fortunately, such an ailment usually disappears after childbirth. Nevertheless, while you are pregnant, you might be interested in the issue of leg pain. What causes it and how can it be alleviated?
Causes of Leg Pain during Pregnancy
All causes can be divided into two groups:
- Physiological (i.e., normal for the period of pregnancy);
- Pathological (caused by various diseases).
Physiological Reasons Include the Following:
- The weight of a woman is constantly increasing.
- The center of gravity shifts; the load on the legs increases.
- Pulsating pain and swelling of the legs are usually caused by excessive accumulation of fluid in the body of a woman.
- Ingrowth of nails on the legs during pregnancy can also cause discomfort. Most often, this is due to the tight shoes worn by women.
- Pressure of the baby’s head on the pelvis. The appearance of pain is characteristic in the third trimester, when the fetus is already quite big.
- Leg cramps can occur due to increased blood volume and high levels of progesterone in the blood during pregnancy. Also, it is typical when there is a lack of calcium or iron in the body, with anemia, and excessive consumption of coffee. As a rule, leg cramps occur at night. Pregnant women mostly suffer from leg cramps in the last trimester.
- Constant aching pain in the legs, especially after prolonged standing or walking, is usually associated with varicose veins.
- Varicose veins very often become a companion of pregnancy. Even if you have never suffered from such a problem before, during pregnancy you automatically fall into a risk group. Since you share system of blood circulation with your child, varicose veins can lead to oxygen malnutrition of the fetus. After all, the child receives all substances important for life from your blood. Therefore, the sooner you take the necessary measures, the better it will be for both of you. It is easy to detect varicosity at pregnancy: legs or foots constantly ache and hurt (especially after a long time standing or walking); burning, tingling, itching, fatigue and heaviness in the legs; there are edemas and vascular networks; the night muscle cramps may disturb as well.
Pathological Causes of Leg Pain during Pregnancy:
- Reduced content of trace elements: calcium and magnesium;
- Edema of pregnancy;
- Ingrowth of nails;
- Flat foot;
- Infectious arthritis (inflammatory disease of joints);
- Thrombophlebitis of superficial and deep veins (inflammation of the veins of the lower extremities).
How to Prevent or Relieve Leg Pain during Pregnancy?
- Drink plenty of water. Edema increases when the body is dehydrated.
- Reduce the amount of consumed salt so that water does not stay in the body.
- Keep to a balanced diet. Include foods high in protein (beans, cheese, fish, meat).
- Watch your weight. Gaining more weight during pregnancy than recommended can increase edema on the legs.
- Try to give your legs rest. If you have to stand for a long time, try to rest when it is possible – sit down and lift your legs. If the legs swell up, lift them as often as possible.
- Do not cross your legs while sitting.
- Do stretching, but very carefully.
- Sleep on your left side. The inferior vena cava, which carries the largest amount of blood in the body, is on the right. Thus, the pressure on this vein will significantly decrease, and leg pain during pregnancy will bother you less.
- Wear socks that do not put too much pressure on your legs.
- You can wear special pantyhose, stockings, golfs and bandages, made from medical compression knitwear to prevent problems with blood vessels.
- Shoes and boots should be comfortable, of high quality and on a small heel.
- Learn to walk properly. It is necessary to develop a posture in which the weight is distributed evenly on both legs, and the spine remains perfectly straight and maximally unloaded. To do this, try not to bend lower back too much and do not lean back the upper part of the body, which many women want to do in later pregnancy, when the abdomen becomes unreasonably large. It is necessary to begin training in advance when the stomach is still small. Thus you will not have problems with varicose veins. You can also learn the correct posture by walking with a book on your head.
- Do not miss the opportunity to walk barefoot along the river, on the sea sand or on the morning dew.
- If the legs are too tired by night, make a bath of room temperature for the legs, after which apply a cooling gel to your feet and lightly massage them.
- There are therapeutic creams and ointments, aimed at the prevention and treatment of varicose veins. Since these products are made on the basis of horse chestnut extract, their application is completely harmless.
- Massage and exercise therapy will prevent the stagnation of blood and reduce the likelihood of leg pain during pregnancy. Swimming is also very useful.
- Avoid being under the sun for a long time. Do not sunbathe on purpose. Ultraviolet weakens the walls of venous vessels and promotes the appearance of varicose during pregnancy.
- It is better to replace baths with a contrast shower. It will strengthen the walls of venous vessels and significantly reduce leg pain during pregnancy.
- Do not lift weights and avoid heavy physical work.
How to Avoid Leg Pain during Pregnancy?
When the leg pain during pregnancy occurs, the woman experiences severe discomfort. This can adversely affect the overall psychological state of the future mother. Therefore, it makes sense to try to eliminate the causes that lead to pain.
It is necessary to control your weight gain every week. Depending on the initial weight before pregnancy, the weekly weight gain in the first half should be 300-500 g, in the second half – around 300 g.
The diet during pregnancy should be balanced. The amount of salt and sugar should be reduced. Do not limit the fluid. It may seem as a paradox, but the more dehydration, the more swelling. You should avoid drinking coffee – it dries the calcium out. It leads to a mineral imbalance in the body.
If you have leg pain during pregnancy, it is necessary to rest as often as possible. Two or three times a day lie for 20 minutes with raised above the level of the head legs.
You need to treat your chronic illnesses even before pregnancy. Then the risk of exacerbations during expectation of the baby will decrease.
During pregnancy, you need to take special vitamins and mineral complexes. This will help maintain the necessary balance of electrolytes in your blood, and therefore reduce the incidence of edema and cramps.
The most important thing is a positive mood. Yes, when your legs hurt, it’s unpleasant. But in fact, the long-awaited first cry of your beloved baby is worth a little suffering.
Be Sure to Consult a Doctor If:
- there is severe pain, numbness and weakness in the aching leg;
- pain persists for more than three days;
- the outer look of the leg has changed (redness, cyanosis, blanching, swelling);
- the temperature of the sick leg is lower or higher than that of the healthy one;
- ulcers or any formations appeared on the leg;
- pain is accompanied by a change in overall health (fever, weakness);
- there are deformities of bones or joints due to trauma;
- joint pain;
- pains are combined with edema.