“Oh my aching feet” is a phrase you hear often from pregnant women. But, are sore feet a symptom they just must deal with during pregnancy? According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) the answer is “no.” There are many remedies available to help alleviate foot pain.
According to Marybeth Crane, DPM, FACFAS, a Dallas-area foot and ankle surgeon, women often experience foot pain during pregnancy because of increased weight, foot instability and swelling. “In the last five years, I’ve seen an increase in pregnant women with foot pain because more women than ever before are active, even running marathons, during their pregnancies,” Dr. Crane says. ACFAS recommends the following guidelines to help reduce foot pain during pregnancy.
Painful, Swollen Feet—Pregnant women often experience throbbing, swollen feet due to excess fluid build up (edema) in the feet from the weight and position of the baby. To reduce swelling, put feet up whenever possible, stretch legs frequently, wear wide comfortable shoes and don’t cross legs when sitting.
Arch Pain—Pain in the arch can be due to both arch fatigue or over pronation (or the flattening of the arch). Over pronation causes extreme stress to the ligament (the plantar fascia) that holds up the arch of the foot. The best way to prevent arch pain is to stretch daily in the morning and before and after any exercise, don’t go barefoot and wear supportive low-heeled shoes.
Ingrown Toenails—Excessive stress from tightly-fitting shoes causes painful ingrown toenails. Give your feet a break: wear wider shoes during the last trimester of pregnancy to avoid ingrown toenails. If you do experience an ingrown toenail, avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. It is best to seek treatment with a foot and ankle surgeon.
It is also not uncommon for women to experience a change in their foot size during pregnancy. “A permanent growth in a women’s foot, up to half a size, can occur from the release of the same hormone, relaxin, that allows the pelvis to open to deliver the baby. It makes the ligaments in your feet more flexible, causing feet to spread wider and longer,” Dr. Crane adds.
Pregnancy and pending motherhood should be a joy. If foot pain persists, a visit to a foot and ankle surgeon can provide relief with conservative treatments such as physical therapy, foot orthotics, supportive shoes and minor toenail procedures.