Through 3 children, I have had a close and personal experience regarding the feet of a pregnant woman. Let me preface this blog by stating that those previously mentioned feet belong to the most beautiful mother in the world! Each pregnancy brings different and new experiences, but two constants remain the same: the need for nightly blue-bell ice cream and the need for nightly foot massages.
The changes experienced by women’s feet during the last 3-6 months of pregnancy can be painful and annoying, but the good news is that Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands has solutions to these problems.
The common foot complaints amongst pregnant women are heel and arch pain and swelling of the feet. The latter is caused by the body’s need to retain more water and the growing cervix putting more pressure on the large veins (veins carry blood from the body tissue back to the heart) that pull the fluid up from the legs. This swelling can also be the cause of those annoying “spider” or varicose veins. Varicose veins occur when the larger veins work insufficiently, forcing blood out into small superficial veins that distort and swell (causing them to appear from under the skin). The swelling will usually go away quickly after delivery, but the varicose veins may stick around for awhile.
The first line of defense against the swelling of the feet, ankles and legs is compression. Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands carries multiple options of compression socks by Dr. Comfort footwear that offer a comfortable and stylish compression, helping the larger veins of the leg carry blood back up to the heart.
Heel pain is another common complaint amongst pregnant women during the second trimester as the body begins to put on healthy pregnancy weight to support the baby’s growth. As the body weight increases, the foot undergoes numerous changes. The first thing to take place is a very subtle widening of the stance. The feet, in order to offer more support to a heavier frame, move slightly away and turn slightly outward. This provides a more stable stance to uphold the slight weight changes. The problem occurs as the body weight falls more on the inner side of the foot, putting extra strain on the ligament of the arch called the plantar fascia. The arch then collapses under the pressure, causing pain to the heel, usually with the first step in the morning or after rest. Many people know this as having a heel spur. Heel spurs occur when the stretched plantar fascia pulls harder on the heel bone causing it to grow along the plantar fascia. Heel spurs themselves are not painful, but are a sign of the pull on the plantar fascia.
The best treatment for heel pain, or plantar fasciitis during pregnancy is to support the arch to prevent it from collapsing. By placing a rigid device (orthotic) under the arch we can prevent the arch from collapsing and straining the plantar fascia.
Another problem associated with changes as the arches flatten out is the occurrence of Neuromas. A Neuroma is a swollen nerve between the bones of the ball of the foot. As the bones of the foot move out of alignment from the weight changes, the nerves in the ball of the foot can get irritated by adjacent bones squeezing together. This causes a tingling that radiates out the toes or up the foot. This is best treated with repositioning the foot via custom orthotics or simple over-the-counter pre-made arch supports.
So it may not be as painful as the cramping or as annoying as the food cravings, but foot pain associated with pregnancy can be a major problem. I highly recommend nightly food rubs by the husband to soothe the aching pains that occur with pregnancy.
Any questions regarding foot pains associated with pregnancy can be directed to:
Dr. Marcin N. Vaclaw
Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands
9191 Pinecroft, Suite 150
The Woodlands, TX 77386