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Navigating Foot Pain in Pregnancy: A Guide for Expecting Mothers on Heel Pain and Podiatry

18 January 2023

Discover effective ways to manage and prevent heel pain during pregnancy. Learn about the causes of heel pain and plantar fasciitis, and how to alleviate discomfort. Many women experience heel pain during pregnancy, discover tips and tricks to help you have a comfortable pregnancy.
Barefoot and pregnant

Pregnancy can bring about a lot of changes to a woman's body, including changes to her feet. Many women experience heel pain during and after pregnancy, and it can be a very uncomfortable and debilitating condition. In this blog, we will discuss the causes of heel pain during and after pregnancy and offer some tips on how to manage and prevent this condition.

One of the main causes of heel pain during pregnancy is weight gain. As the baby grows, the mother's weight also increases, which can put additional strain on the feet and heels. This added weight can cause the heels to become sore and painful, especially if the woman is standing or walking for long periods of time.

Another cause of heel pain during pregnancy is hormonal changes. During pregnancy, the body produces the hormone relaxin, its job is to moderate the amount of oestrogen (another hormone) which loosens the ligaments and joints in the body to prepare for childbirth. While this hormone is beneficial for childbirth, it can also cause the heels to become more flexible, leading to pain and discomfort.

In addition to weight gain and hormonal changes, pregnancy can also cause the feet to swell due to fluid retention. This swelling can put additional pressure on the heels, causing pain and discomfort.

After pregnancy, heel pain can continue due to the additional weight that was gained during pregnancy. This weight can put additional strain on the heels and feet, leading to pain and discomfort. In addition, the hormone relaxin can remain in the body for several months after pregnancy, continuing to cause the heels to be more flexible and prone to pain.

To manage and prevent heel pain during and after pregnancy, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and to wear supportive shoes that provide proper cushioning and support for the feet and heels. Avoiding high heels and opting for low-heeled or flat shoes can also help to reduce the strain on the heels.

Wearing appropriate footwear during pregnancy is important in preventing heel pain and other foot problems.

Pregnancy can cause changes in the feet such as swelling, flat feet, and varicose veins, which can all contribute to heel pain. Wearing shoes that provide appropriate support and cushioning can help to alleviate pain and discomfort in the heels and prevent these foot problems.

It is important to choose shoes that provide good arch support, especially as the pregnancy progresses, as the arch of the foot can flatten, which can cause pain and discomfort in the heel and foot. Avoid high heels as they can put extra pressure on the feet and heels and can also cause balance issues. Instead, opt for low-heeled or flat shoes that provide good arch support and cushioning.

It's also important to make sure that shoes fit well and are not too tight. As pregnancy progresses, the feet can grow, so it is important to check for proper fit regularly and adjust the shoe size as needed. Additionally, it's important to keep in mind that the feet can also swell during pregnancy so it's important to choose shoes that are made of breathable materials, and have adjustable straps or laces to ensure a comfortable fit.

It is also important to be aware of the changes that occur in the feet during pregnancy and make adjustments accordingly to ensure that the shoe fits comfortably, and provides the necessary support. It is always recommended to consult with a podiatrist for further guidance and advice on what type of shoes would be best for you during your pregnancy.

The risks of varicose veins in pregnant women are significant and can contribute to foot and heel pain.

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that can be seen under the skin, usually on the legs. Pregnancy can increase the risk of varicose veins due to the extra weight of pregnancy putting pressure on the veins in the legs. Additionally, hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the veins to relax and stretch, which can contribute to the development of varicose veins.

Varicose veins can cause discomfort and pain in the legs, ankles, and feet. They can also cause itchiness, a feeling of heaviness, and cramping in the legs. In more severe cases, varicose veins can lead to skin changes, such as eczema, and can also increase the risk of blood clots and other complications.

To prevent varicose veins, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and elevate your legs when possible. Wearing compression stockings can also be helpful in preventing varicose veins by improving circulation and reducing swelling. It is also important to note that varicose veins can be hereditary, and if there is a family history of varicose veins it is important to be extra cautious and to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of developing varicose veins during pregnancy.

If varicose veins are already present, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional such as a GP or a vascular specialist for proper management and treatment. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, such as wearing compression stockings and maintaining a healthy weight, as well as minimally invasive procedures such as sclerotherapy or laser therapy. In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

It is important to remember that varicose veins can cause significant discomfort and pain and can lead to complications if left untreated. Therefore, it is important to take preventative measures and seek treatment if necessary to reduce the risk of varicose veins during pregnancy.

Custom orthotics can provide a variety of benefits for pregnant women who are experiencing heel pain.

One of the main benefits of custom orthotics is that they can provide extra support for the feet and help alleviate heel pain during pregnancy. Custom orthotics are designed to fit the specific needs of an individual and can help to improve foot and leg posture and reduce stress on the feet and legs. They can also help to redistribute weight and pressure on the feet and legs, which can help to alleviate pain and discomfort in the heels.

Custom orthotics can also help to prevent the development of flat feet during pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, the arch of the foot can flatten, which can cause pain and discomfort in the heel and foot. Custom orthotics can help to support the arch and prevent flattening of the feet.

Another benefit of custom orthotics is that they can help to improve the overall function of the feet and legs. They can help to improve balance and stability, which can be especially important during pregnancy when the center of gravity changes.

It is important to note that it is essential to consult with a podiatrist to get the appropriate custom orthotics that are tailored to the specific needs of a pregnant woman. A podiatrist can take the necessary measurements and provide guidance on the type of orthotics that would be best for you.

Preventing heel pain during pregnancy is an important aspect of ensuring a happy and healthy pregnancy.

There are several ways to prevent heel pain during pregnancy, including:

  1. Maintaining a healthy weight: Keeping a healthy weight during pregnancy can help to reduce the strain on the feet and heels. As the pregnancy progresses, the added weight can cause pain and discomfort in the heels. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine to prevent excessive weight gain.
  2. Wearing appropriate footwear: Wearing shoes that provide appropriate support and cushioning for the feet and heels can help to prevent heel pain. Avoid high heels and opt for low-heeled or flat shoes that provide good arch support and cushioning. It is also important to make sure that the shoes fit well and are not too tight.
  3. Taking regular breaks: Standing or walking for long periods of time can cause pain and discomfort in the heels. It is important to take regular breaks and rest when standing or walking for long periods of time.
  4. Stretching: Regular stretching can help to alleviate pain and discomfort in the heels. Stretching the calf muscles and Achilles tendon can help to reduce tension and strain on the heels.
  5. Elevating the legs: Elevating the legs when sitting or lying down can help to reduce the pressure on the heels and reduce pain and discomfort.
  6. Foot care: Regularly massaging the feet, using moisturizer to prevent dry skin, and keeping the feet clean can help to maintain the health of your feet and reduce the risk of heel pain.
  7. Preventing varicose veins: Pregnancy can increase the risk of varicose veins, which can contribute to foot and heel pain. To prevent varicose veins, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and elevate your legs when possible.

It is important to remember that preventing heel pain during pregnancy is an ongoing process and it is essential to take care of your feet throughout the pregnancy to ensure a happy and healthy pregnancy. In case of severe or persistent heel pain, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional such as a podiatrist for proper treatment and management.

Treating Heel Pain after Pregnancy:

After pregnancy, it is important to continue to wear supportive shoes and stretch regularly to help prevent and manage heel pain. Additionally, it is important to address any underlying foot problems, such as flat feet or varicose veins, that may have developed during pregnancy.

Over-the-counter pain medications and ice packs can help to reduce pain and swelling, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a GP before taking any medications. Physical therapy can also be helpful in managing heel pain after pregnancy. A physical therapist can design an exercise program that specifically targets the muscles and tendons that are causing the pain, and can also teach you how to properly stretch and care for your feet and legs.

Custom orthotics can also be beneficial in treating heel pain after pregnancy. Custom orthotics can provide extra support for the feet and help alleviate pain in the heels. They can also help to improve foot and leg posture, reduce stress on the feet and legs, and help prevent varicose veins.

In more severe cases, a podiatrist may recommend additional treatments such as steroid injections, ultrasound therapy, or shockwave therapy to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for your specific case of heel pain. It is also important to continue to take care of your feet and legs after pregnancy, by maintaining a healthy weight, wearing supportive shoes, and stretching regularly to prevent heel pain from recurring.

In conclusion, heel pain during and after pregnancy is a common condition that can be caused by weight gain, hormonal changes, and fluid retention. To manage and prevent heel pain, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, wear supportive shoes, and stretch regularly. If heel pain is severe or persistent, it is important to consult with a podiatrist for proper treatment and management. Taking care of your feet and legs during pregnancy can prevent common foot problems and ensure a happy and healthy pregnancy. It is also important to be aware of the risks of varicose veins and the importance of arch support during pregnancy to ensure that your foot and heel pain is managed.