Being Pregnant: Shoulder Pain in Pregnancy, Causes and Remedies
Shoulder pain in pregnancy is a common complaint. It is thought that about 40% of pregnant women suffer from shoulder discomfort during their pregnancy. Many pregnant women suffer enough discomfort to need medical attention or painkillers. This is really not surprising when we consider the fact that we use our shoulders constantly. A pregnant woman’s body is undergoing many posture, weight and physiological changes at a rapid rate.
During pregnancy, shoulder pain can be a symptom of something as simple as a bad night’s sleep. It can also indicate a more serious issue, which may require medical attention.
As pregnancy progresses a woman’s body produces chemicals to relax the ligaments in the body and prepare for childbirth. As the ligaments of the knees, hips, back, neck and shoulders loosen there is an increased risk of injury through ligament strain and sprain. Rapid weight gain and bad posture can also lead to pressure and strain in the shoulders. Women should be aware of this and work to maintain correct posture. When exercising, it is important to stick to low impact activities or train with a qualified prenatal instructor.
Sleep position can lead to shoulder pain. During the second and third trimester, women are often encouraged to sleep on their left side to improve blood flow to the placenta. This position also helps kidney efficiency and avoid putting pressure on the spine. Spending all night on one side can lead to pain in the shoulder. Pregnant women can try sleeping on their back with a pillow propped under their right side as an alternative sleep position.
Digestion issues and gallstones can cause shoulder pain. During pregnancy digestion slows down and the gallbladder can fail to empty. This can result in the formation of gallstones, which cause sharp abdominal pain and pain in the right shoulder. Constipation, gas and stomach ulcers can also lead to similar pains. Pregnant women are advised to avoid eating spicy or fatty foods.
One of the more serious causes of shoulder pain during pregnancy is pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a disorder, which can affect 5-8% of pregnancies. It is thought pre-eclampsia is caused by the placenta producing substances, which enter the mother’s blood stream and lead to health complications. High blood pressure is the most significant symptom of pre-eclampsia. If you have shoulder pain be sure to request your doctor check your blood pressure at every visit. Other symptoms include swelling in your face or hands, sudden weight gain, nausea, lower back pain, changes to vision, anxiety, racing pulse and mental confusion.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo is located outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes or cervix. This results in sharp abdominal pain, which often radiates to the back and shoulder. Other symptoms are nausea, light-headedness and vaginal bleeding. Ectopic pregnancies require immediate medical attention and can be life threatening.
In pregnancy, ongoing shoulder pain or shoulder pain, which occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, should always be reported to your healthcare provider. This can help avoid any complications or prolonged discomfort.
Data credit: Written by Jessica Josh. http://shouldersurgerysydney.com.au/ is one of the leading Shoulder Surgeons in Sydney. Jessica is a freelance writer from Australia who loves writing about medical & health related topics.