Pregnancy is an exciting time in life, but it does not come without its aches and pains. Some of the common changes that occur during pregnancy are those that affect your feet. It is important not to overlook any foot pain that you experience during pregnancy and to inform yourself about the changes that occur. There are five main problems the are most commonly seen by podiatrists when treating someone who is pregnant.
Common foot problems during pregnancy
1: Weight gain – This can have an impact on the biomechanics of the feet as the centre of gravity shifts as pregnancy progresses. It is common to experience metatarsalgia, bursitis, neuroma or increased corn and callus formation. Patients should be avoiding high heels and unsupportive shoes during pregnancy to reduce the risk of any of the problems mentioned above.
2: Hormone production – Relaxin is produced during pregnancy and causes the ligaments in the feet and ankles to relax. This can lead to instability and discomfort due to overuse of supporting muscles. This can lead to long term changes in the foot and ankle. Orthotics can help overcome unstable feet.
3: Increased knee and ankle forces – With increased weight comes increased forces that are placed on the body (e.g. knee, ankle). This can cause over-pronation in the feet and can lead to irreversible arch collapse. Arch height normally reduces with pregnancy and becomes worse with any future pregnancies. Orthotics can also help in this situation by restoring the foot’s natural arch and proper function.
4: Swelling – Occurs around the lower leg and ankle leading to discomfort. Patients often have trouble finding shoes that fit comfortably. It is advised to be professionally fitted for shoes when going through pregnancy. To reduce the swelling it is important to elevate the feet whilst sitting down and to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Short walks are advised to keep circulation in check.
5: Cramping: This occurs in the feet and legs during pregnancy. These cramps are caused by altered calcium levels, muscle fatigue and increased pressure on nerves and blood vessels. For symptomatic relief, massage and lower leg exercises are recommended.
When to see a podiatrist during pregnancy?
It is important to see a podiatrist if you are experiencing any foot problems that may be related to your pregnancy. Our Melbourne podiatrists can professionally diagnose foot related problems during pregnancy and will implement a treatment plan tailored for your needs.