3 Common Reasons for Hip Pain During Pregnancy

3 Common Reasons for Hip Pain During Pregnancy

With a woman’s changing body during pregnancy, pain happens.  One of the most common complaints massage therapists hear during a prenatal massage intake is that her hips are aching and she has pain going down her leg.  Those two symptoms make everyone almost always jump to sciatic nerve pain, but the truth is, there are several different reasons for hip pain and pain down the leg both while pregnant and while not pregnant.  During pregnancy, with the influx of the hormone relaxin, increase weight gain, musculoskeletal changes, and pressure on the sciatic nerve as it passes under the growing uterus, understanding all the possible reasons why the pain is occurring can lead to better outcomes that are hopefully pain-free.  

Please remember to always consult your medical team for any diagnoses.  This entry is intended to explain the differences, not to diagnosis.  

  

Where the sciatic nerve impingment starts in the back can cause the pain to follow a different path down the leg. Photo Credit

Where the sciatic nerve impingment starts in the back can cause the pain to follow a different path down the leg.

Photo Credit

Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic Nerve Pain is a very unique pain, usually on one side for the body.  The pain starts in the mid to low-back and radiates through the hip, and down the leg, usually ending at the foot.  Depending where the pain starts in the mid and low back (which can range from L-3 to S-1), the pain can take a different path down the leg and ending on either the outside or inside of the foot. 

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle (a small triangular shaped muscle deep in the buttocks near the hip joint) has become inflamed and/or tight.  The sciatic nerve can either go under, over, or through the piriformis muscle, so when that muscle is tight, the nerve can be impinged thus mimicking the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain.  By loosening and treating the tight piriformis muscle, the sciatic nerve tension is decreased.  With Piriformis Syndrome, there is more localized pain above the sacrum on one side of the body and the pain usually does not reach the foot.  

 

 

The piriformis is a small muscle deep to the gluteals that controls the rotation of the fermur thus assisting with walking photo credit

The piriformis is a small muscle deep to the gluteals that controls the rotation of the fermur thus assisting with walking

photo credit

Pelvic Gridle Pain 

This pain tends to be closer to the groin than the previous two issues and can feel almost like menstrual cramps.  The pain is generally deeper in the body, and can be down the front of the legs.  This pain is out of our scoop, but we have an excellent physical therapist we recommend to our clients. 

What can I do at home to help with hip pain?

  • Make sure that while you sleep, your legs and hips are supported to avoid any extra pressure on the muscles, joints, and nerves 
  • Applying heat or cold to the area that is painful
  • Laying on the side opposite the pain to reduce pressure on the hip 
  • Place a tennis ball on the thick part of the muscle that hurts (important not to apply pressure to the bone), and do a few wall squats to allow the tennis ball to loosen the muscle 
  • Stretch! 
Lay face down with one leg folded under you and lean forward       Photos Credit

Lay face down with one leg folded under you and lean forward

 

 

 

Photos Credit

Lay play your back and cross one leg over the other, and twist the oppose way as your knee.  

Lay play your back and cross one leg over the other, and twist the oppose way as your knee.  

Lay on your back, cross your legs and pull the bottom leg close to your body

Lay on your back, cross your legs and pull the bottom leg close to your body

Benefits of Massage

Massage therapists are specifically trained to help understand where the pain starts, thus how to help treat the pain.  While only a physician can diagnosis the actual problem, we can work with your medical team to help reduce the symptoms and hopefully allow for you to be in less pain. 

We have a few small stretches that can be done to help us isolate where the pain starts, and how it is felt through the leg.  By performing these stretches, we can get a better idea where the pain starts, and thus how to better treat any issues you may be experience.  

We hope this helped you understand the hip pain you are experiencing and we look forward to working with you in the future to help reduce that pain. To schedule an appointment, please visit our website

 

 

 

 

 

Works Consulted

Koes, BW, MW Van Tudler, and WC Puel. "Clinical Review: Diagnosis and Treatment of Sciatica." BMJ 334 (2007): 1313-317. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.