A variety of health problems develop during pregnancy that can put a damper on the excitement of welcoming a baby into the world such as headaches, nausea, heartburn, constipation, and more. Luckily, there are natural, drug-free solutions that can help with these symptoms while keeping both you and your baby safe.
Kristen Cardamone, DO, Summit Health interventional pain management specialist, offers alternative treatment options for pain conditions, including pregnancy-related issues. Below are some quick tips and recommendations she gives to patients who may be looking for alternative therapies for some of the more common pregnancy ailments.
As pregnancy progresses, an enlarging uterus shifts the center of gravity forward. This redistribution of weight places more pressure on the ligaments that attach the uterus to the pelvis and spine, and back pain can occur.
Generally, low back pain is short-term and positional and often can be relieved with gentle flexibility exercises or daily movement. A pregnancy yoga DVD or class can do wonders for tight hamstrings and fatigued back muscles. However, always check with your OB/GYN to see if there are restrictions that would prohibit certain activities. When deemed medically necessary, there also are some safe injections that may help.
Sacroiliac (low back and buttocks) Pain:
Increasing hormone levels cause laxity or stretching of joint ligaments during pregnancy. One such joint called the sacroiliac joint is especially prone to the effects of these hormones and can be a source of low back or buttocks pain. A sacroiliac support brace can be extremely helpful for this issue, especially later in pregnancy.
A physiatrist specializes in musculoskeletal pain and can properly evaluate you for this and other pregnancy-related pain conditions. They can also discuss a variety of alternatives including topical and oral nutritional supplements or prescribe an appropriate brace if needed. “A particularly important tip, which I learned during my own pregnancy, is to listen to your body,” says Dr. Cardamone. “If you are experiencing pelvic, low back, or buttocks pain that feels excruciating and outside the realm of typical aching, please alert your OB/GYN, but also request a consult with a physiatrist. Unusual pain could prove to be related to a pelvic or sacroiliac fracture, which I had the misfortune of experiencing, and this requires much different treatment.”
Another condition which can occur during pregnancy due to an enlarging uterus and increased hormone levels is pubic symphysis dysfunction and separation or widening of the pubic bones. Osteopathic manipulation, injections, and physical therapy may be helpful for this condition.
During the third trimester, many women may notice swelling of their hands, wrists, and feet. This extra fluid puts pressure on the nerves in the wrist, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome. This generally resolves spontaneously upon delivery. However, it can be bothersome towards the end of pregnancy. Some helpful management options include the use of wrist braces at night, icing the area, osteopathic manipulation, topical applications, and local injections. A physiatrist can discuss all these options with you and your OB/GYN. When it comes down to it, preventive care is the best care. Be an advocate for yourself and your baby. There is no need to suffer in pain.
Dr. Cardamone uses comprehensive, integrative pain management approaches to treat pain conditions. She specializes in both prevention and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal (nerve, joint, spine, ligament, muscle, tendon, fascia) pain disorders through a variety of innovative, non-surgical approaches uniquely tailored to resolving pain and improving function.