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Why Do My Feet Hurt Now That I’m Pregnant?

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m young. My feet have never bothered me before. Why am I all of a sudden having foot pain?” Well, let me help alleviate your concerns.

Pregnancy triggers many different changes in a woman’s body. Our husbands are all too familiar with the hormonal imbalances we experience, but a common complaint that is often overlooked and not taken seriously is foot pain. Due to the natural weight gain during pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity is completely altered. This causes you to stand differently, adding pressure to the knees and feet.

Two of the most common foot problems are over- pronation and edema. It can start with mild symptoms, but can lead to much more severe pain at the heel, arch, or the ball-of-foot. Many women may also experience leg cramping and varicose veins due to weight gain. I often recommend and dispense custom compression hose that are essential in preventing those unsightly varicose veins. Because of this, it is important for all pregnant women to learn more about foot health during their pregnancy to help make this nine 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 back. The reason many pregnant women suffer from over-pronation is the added pressure on the body as a result of weight gain.

Edema, also referred to as swelling in the feet, normally occurs in the latter part of pregnancy. Edema results from the extra blood accumulated during pregnancy. The enlarging uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis and legs causing circulation to slow down and blood to pool in the lower extremities. The total water fluid in the body remains the same as before pregnancy, however it becomes displaced. Sometimes extra water is retained during pregnancy, adding to the swelling. Lucky us. Please note, if there is swelling in the face or hands, your primary care physician should be contacted immediately.

Treatment and Prevention

Pregnant ladies unite! There is hope, and I’m here to help. There are effective ways to treat both over-pronation and edema during pregnancy.

Over-Pronation can be treated conservatively with “ready-made” orthotics. In our office we can take a digital scan of your feet to detect pressure points, and have a pair of custom inserts ready in one week. These orthotics are designed with appropriate arch support and medial rearfoot posting to correct the over-pronation. Proper fitting footwear, such as athletic shoes are also very important in treating over-pronation, your custom inserts fit easily in this type of shoe, but can also be modifiedto fit a shoe more fashion savy. Your best bet is to wear 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 such as Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Metatarsalgia, Posterior-Tibial Tendonitis and/or Bunions. Custom inserts can help these issues as well.

Edema in the feet can be minimized by the following methods:

  • Elevate your feet as often as possible. (Tell your family this is a doctor’s order). If you have to sit for long periods of time, place a small stool by your feet to elevate them.
  • Wear proper fitting footwear. Footwear that is too narrow or short will constrict circulation.
  • Have your feet measured several times throughout your pregnancy. They will probably change sizes.
  • Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation.
  • If you are driving for a long period of time, take regular breaks to stretch your legs to promote circulation.
  • Exercise regularly to promote overall health; walking is the best exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated. This helps the body retain less fluid.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods high in salt that can cause water retention.

Swelling is normally similar in both feet. If swelling is not symmetrical in both feet, this may be a sign of a vascular problem and a primary care doctor should be contacted immediately.

Most importantly ladies, it’s all worth it! Once your bundle of joy is here, our office also treats a wide variety of pediatric foot problems such as ingrown toenails, in-toeing and out-toeing gait, and much more. Please call our office today for an appointment (859) 264-1141.

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