Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy – Is It Normal?

Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?

Pregnancy comes with dozens of different symptoms – some women deal with nausea and vomiting, while others suffer from headaches, insomnia and fatigue. However, there is a small number of women who experience joint pain in early pregnancy stages.

Now, joint pain is quite common in the last trimester of pregnancy, everyone knows that. It’s because of the increasing weight of the baby. But what about the first trimester?

Is joint pain normal at that time, or is it too early? Is it a regular thing or it’s a reason to see your doctor fast?

There are many theories I’ve heard around, so it’s time to give a clear answer to this question.



Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?Though it doesn’t happen in most cases, joint pain can appear in early stages of pregnancy without any pathological  reason. The cause is very easy to understand.

Why?: Once pregnancy comes in, your body starts secreting a hormone called relaxin. As you can tell from its name, this hormone relaxes the joints and makes them very loose. In fact, this is how your body prepares for the birth, and loosening the joints is part of this process.

However, sometimes this hormone is secreted too early in quantities that are too high. For this reason, your joints become very loose and every single movement feels much more painful.

The most common parts affected by joint pain in pregnancy are legs, hands, hip, back and pelvis. Toes and fingers are usually the “safest” joints from this point of view. 

What to do about it: But there are some good news as well. The hormone doesn’t make absolutely any harm in your body, no matter in what quantities it appears. It doesn’t affect the joints, it doesn’t make them prone to damage or any other thing.

So if you are unfortunate enough to have joint pain in the first weeks of your pregnancy, don’t get too alarmed. This pain doesn’t have any medical cause, but unfortunately, it can worsen with every month. So is there anything you can do about it?

Well, here are 5 things you can try in order to relieve the pain. Some may help you more than others, so make sure you try them all out.


1. Painkilling Medication

Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?Unlike arthritis and all the other conditions that produce joint pain, the pain from pregnancy isn’t caused by the inflammation of joints. For this reason, the typical anti-inflammatory medication won’t have any effect in this case.

Instead, the only types of drugs that could work would be painkillers. The pain is caused by the loosening of the joints, so these medicines simply make you not feel that pain.

However, the majority of today’s medicines aren’t safe in pregnancy. For this reason, you can only take the painkillers recommended by your doctor. And in most cases, it’s Tylenol, one of the few options on the market.

But there are some good news as well. Painkillers usually help, making the pain much more tolerable or even reducing it completely.


2. Plenty Of Water

Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?Though it’s not scientifically proved, many women claim that drinking lots of water managed to relieve their joint pain. Staying hydrated is always beneficial for your body, but in this case it seems the benefits are even bigger.

According to specialists, a healthy adult should drink 8 eight-ounces glasses of water per day. However, doctors recommend the same dose for pregnant women. This makes the joint pain relieving proprieties of water even more surprising.

But what helps me may not help you too. And because there are no solid evidences that water has beneficial proprieties for joint pain, all you can do is find the truth on your own. Or rather, find if water has any effect on your joint pain.


3. Calcium & Magnesium

Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?Most supplements are forbidden in pregnancy, everyone knows that. However, calcium and magnesium are among that small group that has no chance of affecting your baby. For this reason, this kind of supplements are even recommended many times during pregnancy.

According to doctors, calcium and magnesium prevent the uterus from contracting prematurely. Obviously, there is a maximum dose, that must be respected even more in pregnancy.

When it comes to joint pain, many women claim that these supplements visibly relieved their joint pain. Just like in the case of water, there are basically no studies, but this seems to be the truth. Many doctors recommend calcium and magnesium supplements for their pregnant patients, and most are praising the effect of these medicines.

However, there is still a big warning sign. Do not take these medicines without your doctor’s approval, even though they are only supplements.


4. Exercises And Yoga

Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?If your state affords it, the best thing you can do to relieve pregnancy joint pain is to exercise. Obviously, it’s not about working out or running 5 miles, but taking a long walk can do miracles.

But it’s all about how you’re feeling. If your pain is very deep, it would be absurd to try to exercise, because you would have to stop after a few seconds. However, if your pain is rather mild or it’s well controlled by the painkillers, a little physical activity is even recommended.

Yoga can also relieve your pain significantly, but it usually requires some skills. There’s no point taking up yoga just to improve the pain, if you’ve never practiced it before. It won’t help you too much in this case.


5. Massage

Joint Pain In Early Pregnancy - Is It Normal?Who wouldn’t feel better after a proper massage? Well, even joint pain decreases with this kind of therapy.

If your pain doesn’t go away with any painkillers, massage and acupuncture can be a better option. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional massage, in a certified salon. You could simply massage the painful part of your body at home, using oil.

If your leg joints feel very painful, you can also try taking a hot bath and then placing a pack of ice on that part. Though this works better for a real inflammation, it can do miracles for your joints as well.

When it comes to acupuncture, you can’t really do this by yourself or at home. But as this procedure made wonders for all types of pain, it may also solve your rebellious joint pain.



So Is Joint Pain Normal In Early Pregnancy Stages?

Yes it is, but it’s quite rare. It’s just a consequence of a relaxin level that is too high. But this hormone is a good sign in pregnancy, so you shouldn’t be too worried about the causes of this pain. There’s nothing wrong with your baby or with your body.

Let’s say you’re just unlucky to have to go through this.

However, painkilling medication prescribed by your doctor should relieve your pain, if not reduce it to zero. In case this doesn’t happen, you can try non-medical alternatives, like massage, acopuncture and exercising, if your health affords it, of course.

But all in all, what is important is that this joint pain is just temporary and it has no medical reason other than pregnancy itself.


Are you experiencing joint pain in the first trimester of your pregnancy? Or did you experience that in the past? Let me know your answer in a comment and I will reach out to you with advice.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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4 Responses

  1. cali says:

    The joint pain that I am experiencing is very intense at night, mostly my shoulders and neck area. This is. my third pregnancy, second one ended in miscarriage. I got pregnant really soon after that. I am about seven weeks I think. The pain is largely impacting sleeping.

  2. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hi Cali, sorry about your miscarriage. It’s hard to tell which is the cause behind your pain, since it’s mostly in the upper part of your body. If it was lower, I would have thought it’s maybe the pregnancy but in this case, I can’t really tell. And also, 7 weeks is still very early for you to experience upper joint pain. As I said in my article, relaxin tends to impact the pelvis and hips, it rarely causes shoulder pain and it rarely has a big impact so early.

    But on the other hand, it might also be a specific symptom. You know that every women is different, some struggle with morning sickness while others are totally fine from this point of view. So this could be an explanation but once again, I can’t really tell for sure.

    Have you told your doctor about it? He might be the only one that can tell you exactly what’s happening in your body and what is causing that pain.

  3. Madeline says:

    I’m 4 weeks pregnant and my ankles and wrists are killing me. It’s effecting my ability to do anything around the house. Could this be caused by relaxin so early?
    This is my 2nd pregnancy, my first ended in miscarriage at 5 weeks 3 months ago. I didn’t have this problem with the first.

  4. Heather Pharm.D. says:

    Hi Madeline, sorry to hear about your issues. Yes, it could be relaxin behind these problems, though your pregnancy is still in a very early stage. So you should really ask your doctor about this in your next appointment. Since you’re pregnant, it’s risky for you to take any supplement/remedy because most of them don’t have any studies in pregnancy, so it’s better to ask your specialist.

    Also, every pregnancy is different so the fact that you didn’t experience these issues with the first one doesn’t mean you won’t either in the second one. Hope this helps! Best wishes for you and your baby!

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