What might be causing my shoulder pain during pregnancy?

What might be causing my shoulder pain during pregnancy?

Being pregnant can be simultaneously exciting and worrying. While the experience can be highly rewarding, it can also come with issues such as chronic pain. Pain during pregnancy can manifest in many different areas throughout the body. One area that might be affected is the shoulder. If you are experiencing shoulder pain during your pregnancy, finding relief is important. By addressing your pain, you can improve your comfort level and focus more on other aspects of life.

To effectively address shoulder pain during pregnancy, understanding the cause is an essential first step. Knowing why you are experiencing certain symptoms can help you find a treatment that works. A licensed physical therapist can help identify the cause of your symptoms and find an effective solution. With physical therapy, you can receive top-notch treatment tailored to your diagnosis and other health needs. Learning more about the potential causes of your pain can help you manage expectations before receiving a professional diagnosis. Understanding the risks associated with some underlying conditions can also serve to illustrate the importance of early intervention.

Potential causes of shoulder pain during pregnancy

  • Posture changes — Posture changes are a common part of pregnancy. As your body undergoes various changes, you might start to change the way you sit, stand and move in response. For example, you might begin to slouch more during your pregnancy. These changes are often subtle and made subconsciously. Even small posture changes can have a big impact, though. Slouching or hunching your shoulders can put more stress on your muscles and joints. Over time, this can lead to noticeable symptoms like shoulder pain. Physical therapy can help address postural issues, which can in turn alleviate your pain. A physical therapist can offer guidance on proper posture and help you incorporate gentle stretches to alleviate shoulder tension. By following your personalized treatment plan, you can work to correct your posture and improve your body’s biomechanics.
  • Hormonal changes — During pregnancy, your body’s hormones may fluctuate a lot. In addition to a range of other symptoms, these changes can lead to pain. One hormone that can contribute to shoulder pain during pregnancy is called relaxin. Relaxin mainly functions to minimize joint tension. While joint relaxation may seem like a positive, it can have some negative side effects. By relaxing the joints, relaxin can reduce support for other parts of your shoulder. Instability around the shoulder joint often leads to pain in the muscles and other tissue. To address this pain, your physical therapist may prescribe focused low-impact exercises. PT exercises can strengthen your shoulder muscles and improve stability, potentially counteracting the effect of your hormonal changes.
  • Muscle strain — Being pregnant can increase the risk of injuries like muscle strains. A muscle strain occurs when the tissue of a muscle is stretched too far or torn. To prevent muscle strain while pregnant, proper body mechanics are important. Avoiding heavy lifting can also help. Still, you may end up straining a muscle. If this happens, your physical therapist can help you work toward recovery. Specialized exercises and manual therapy may be incorporated into your treatment plan.
  • Sleeping position — Does your pain become more intense at night? If so, your sleeping position may be contributing to your shoulder pain during pregnancy. Poor sleeping positions can lead to pain and stiffness in anyone. During pregnancy, though, the risk for shoulder pain is especially high. Sleeping the wrong way can put excess pressure on soft tissue and nerves, leading to pain that may continue once you get out of bed. Sleeping on your back can be particularly harmful, as it can reduce blood flow while you sleep. Alongside your physical therapist, you can work to find a sleeping position that is healthy and comfortable for you. Your physical therapist may recommend sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs. Using supportive pillows can help you reduce pressure and maintain a good sleeping position.
  • Gallstones — Gallstones are deposits of bile that can form in your gallbladder. Bile is typically a fluid, but sometimes it hardens into stones that can cause serious discomfort. During pregnancy, you may be at a higher risk for gallstone formation due to changes in your hormone balance. According to one study, gallstones affect up to 12% of pregnant women. The pain caused by gallstones is typically centered around the abdomen. The sharp pains around your stomach can also radiate toward your shoulders. If you are experiencing shoulder and abdominal pain during your pregnancy, gallstones could be the cause. Physical therapy can help you manage your symptoms.

Franklin Rehabilitation can help treat your shoulder pain during pregnancy

Want relief from your shoulder pain during pregnancy? Franklin Rehabilitation can help. Our team offers a range of treatments tailored to women’s health and pregnancy-related symptoms. We can deliver quality care tailored to your needs and long-term health goals.

Call us or request an appointment today to find treatments for shoulder pain during pregnancy.