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Pregnancy and Foot Pain: What You Need to Know

Summit foot and ankle expert Tracy Rupke, M.D., explains the connection between pregnancy and foot pain — and why it’s important not to wait to get treatment.

A woman’s body undergoes thousands of changes, big and small, during pregnancy. Some, like the ever-growing “baby bump,” are expected. Others, like foot pain, come as an unwelcome surprise. But as Dr. Rupke explains, it’s all part of the process. Here’s what you need to know about the connection between pregnancy and foot pain.

Causes of foot pain during pregnancy

“Toward the end of the third trimester, ligaments throughout the body begin to relax and stretch a bit more. This is normal, because the pelvis needs that increased laxity in order to stretch for birth. At the same time, increased laxity in the ligaments of the feet and ankles can contribute to foot pain,” Dr. Rupke said. Other relatively benign conditions, like being flat-footed, can make pain worse.

Another normal part of pregnancy — weight gain — can also result in foot pain. The pregnant body retains additional fluid everywhere, including the feet. “It’s common for pregnant women to experience significant swelling of the feet and ankles,” Dr. Rupke said.

Simple remedies

Fortunately, there are simple remedies that can help. To get relief from foot pain caused by increased laxity in the ligaments, Dr. Rupke recommends wearing good, supportive shoes. Adding an arch support can help with the pain. If swelling is the problem, make sure to stay well hydrated — it may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to beat swelling is to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. And be careful with salt, since excessive salt intake can make swelling worse. Sitting with the feet up when possible can help reduce swelling, and compression stockings can help as well.

Pregnancy and foot pain don’t have to go together, however. To prevent foot and ankle problems from developing during pregnancy, Dr. Rupke recommends staying active throughout the nine months. “Supervised exercise is recommended to keep your heart and vascular systems healthy and to ensure that you have a healthy amount of weight gain,” she said.

The good news is, foot and ankle symptoms caused by pregnancy will typically go away in the weeks and months after delivery. If you’re still experiencing pain after six months, it’s smart to make an appointment for an orthopedic evaluation.

“Many women are hesitant to visit an orthopedics practice while pregnant. They may be afraid to get an X-ray, for example,” Dr. Rupke said. “But if you are in pain, please don’t wait. You can have an X-ray with appropriate precautions, and if you have an injury, we need to catch it right away. You could have lifelong problems if you have an injury and don’t get treated — so please, don’t hesitate.”

Summit Orthopedics offers personalized foot and ankle expertise

Our fellowship-trained foot and ankle physicians understand that your mobility depends on the health of your feet and ankles. If you have suffered an injury or are experiencing symptoms that make walking painful, our team of foot and ankle specialists can help with conservative treatment, seasoned surgical teams, and expert rehabilitation support. Summit Orthopedics specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely get you back on your feet and on your way.

Start your journey to optimal foot health. Find your foot and ankle expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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