6 ways to minimise the effects of knee pain during pregnancy

6 ways to minimise the effects of knee pain during pregnancy

Excessive weight gained during pregnancy often leads to an added pressure on the knees. Here are 6 ways to minimise the effects of knee pain

It's a well-known fact that pregnancy can lead to various physical changes in a woman's body. These could include hormonal changes, cravings, mood swings and even weight gain. While these changes are a natural development during the nine months and even after, there are many other unforeseen challenges that an expecting mother could face; prime among them is knee pain.

"Pregnant women tend to gain an unprecedented amount of weight during the process, and only a few manage to shed the kilos through rigorous exercise and a strong willpower. In many cases, they may even fail to find enough time and motivation to burn the calories as they struggle with raising the child and getting back to normalcy after the delivery. Some dismiss it as no cause for worry. While it might not be a major aesthetic worry, sudden weight gain can certainly impact the body negatively," says Dr Rajeev K Sharma, senior consultant, orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

He adds that excessive weight often leads to an added pressure on the joints, especially the knees.

"As we grow, our knees also undergo wear and tear, which can be escalated by excess body weight. In addition, women also lose more bone density than men in their lifetime and are therefore, more susceptible to osteoporosis (thin and weak bones)," he says.

Consequence of knee pain during pregnancy

If a woman suffers from knee pain during pregnancy, she may have to deal with osteoarthritis later. This is a degenerative joint disease, which due to the wear and tear of the protective cartilage, causes stiffness, locking of knee joints and severe pain.

Dr Sharma explains, "More weight implies more pressure on knees and an increased wear and tear of the cartilage and ligament. This can hinder basic movements of walking, running and bending in the future."

How to fight knee pain

Dr Sharma says that while it is normal for pregnant women to gain weight steadily throughout the pregnancy, the weight gain should not be excessive.

"Consuming a high carb diet, giving up all forms of physical activity and sometimes even hormonal imbalance may lead to women gaining an excessive amount of weight. This can cause problems various problems during pregnancy." He lists the following health issues overweight women may face during pregnancy:

  • Increased propensity to high blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Discomfort during pregnancy
  • Inaccurate ultrasound results
  • Possibility of premature labour
  • Heavier than normal baby

Caring for your knee during and after pregnancy

Dr Sharma lists the following ways that women should adopt during and after pregnancy to ensure their knees remain in sound health.

#1 Walk regularly

This is recommended both during and after pregnancy. "Walking is one of the most effective exercises, in fact, it also helps in bone-building. People who are unable to perform rigorous exercise due to health problems can walk for 30 minutes. For women who are expecting, walking is the best form of exercise that can help them keep their weight under check as also keep their knee joints active," he says.

#2 Eating healthy

If you are pregnant, it doesn’t mean that you can lose all count of calories consumed or kilos gained. "It is important to be in regular touch with your nutritionist who can advise you the right nutrition and diet to keep you and the baby healthy, yet prevent excessive weight gain," says Dr Sharma.

He adds that apart from weight gain, another major reason for joint pain and weakening of bones is the deficiency of calcium and vitamin D in the body. He suggests, "A balanced diet would not only focus on avoiding junk food and oily grub, but would also try and increase the amount of these nutrients in the body. Natural foods that are high in vitamin D include fish oils, fish liver, mushrooms, cheese, and egg yolks, so make sure you include them in your meals. Also, exposure to sunshine is essential for mothers to ensure enough Vitamin D for bones."

He also suggests that calcium supplements along with calcium-rich food like milk, yogurt, dark leafy vegetables, tofu, lady finger, broccoli and almonds are a must for all women, especially new mothers with the risk of knee pain.

#3 Practice yoga

Pre-natal yoga can not only prepare the body for labour but also help you to keep your weight under check. "Expecting mothers can also benefit a lot in terms of stress-relief through yoga and meditation as well as keeping the the joints active and healthy," he says.

#4 Go for running

"One you have delivered the baby, it is advisable to get back into shape as soon as possible. Running is one of the best forms of exercise for the body and knees. Not only does it help manage weight, but it also keeps the heart in a good condition. The fact that it strengthens bones and muscles helps avoid the aforementioned knee problems," advises Dr Sharma.

#5 Avoid the treadmill

While running should be a part of your exercise regime, it is advisable to stick to running on the ground instead of using a treadmill. Dr Sharma explains, "This is because a treadmill increases the chance of knee injuries and can worsen the situation in case of knee pain."

#6 Dancing and Aerobics

"For new mothers, dancing and aerobics at home is not only a fun activity but will also function as a healthy exercise for both weight loss and bone-strengthening," says Dr Sharma.

Read: Kegel exercise and childbirth: 5 steps to prepare the pelvic muscles 

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(Image courtesy: itkcdn)

Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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