Neck pains during pregnancy are very common. In fact, nearly 40% of women end up seeing their doctor for it. It’s no surprise – a woman’s body undergoes major changes during the 9 months – as you’d expect given you’re growing a baby.
The added weight of the baby, hormonal changes, changes in lifestyle all add up, making the neck and shoulder pain in pregnancy inevitable. The problem arises when you don’t take steps to manage and treat the pain during early signs.
Common Causes of Neck Pain While Pregnant
Every woman’s body is different and every pregnancy is different too. So don’t be surprised if you hear some women say they began experiencing pain only in the third trimester. For others, neck and shoulder pain can start in the first month itself.
Here are a few reasons why women experience neck pain in pregnancy:
Bad posture – A hunched-over posture over a phone or while working at a desk can cause neck and back pain.
Changes in spinal curvature – The weight of the baby and the amniotic sac changes the curvature of the spine making neck muscles compensate.
Day-to-day tasks – A growing belly means you move and handle everyday things differently. That places strain on muscles that aren’t used to it, causing neck pains during pregnancy.
Overexertion– Exercise and movement that were easy before can suddenly become too much for the body and cause injury. This is one of the main reasons for neck pain in early pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy – If between 4 – 12 weeks of pregnancy you start experiencing neck or shoulder tip pain, it could be a sign the egg is growing outside the uterus. This can be life-threatening and you need to see a doctor immediately.
Shifting center of gravity – As your baby becomes heavier, the center of gravity shifts, and your body’s posture changes, which can lead to neck pain.
Hormones – The relaxin and progesterone hormones loosen joints and ligaments (in expectation of delivery), making you more susceptible to muscle aches and pains.
Lack of exercise – Insufficient exercise will cause muscles to atrophy and tighten, causing – you guessed it – stiff neck during pregnancy.
8 Remedies for Treating Neck Pains During Pregnancy That Just Won’t Go Away
Look, you’re growing a human being, so nothing is going to be a silver bullet. But mix-and-match these remedies and you can reduce neck aches during pregnancy.
1- Maintain good posture
Focus on how you sit, stand, and work. Actively keeping shoulders and lower back straight will improve spinal alignment, and ease neck pain.
2- Give yourself a warm or cold compress
Apply a warm compress (warm towel, hot water bottle, or heating pad) or cold compress (ice pack or cold towel) regularly to relieve pain and stiffness in the neck.
3- Get a pregnancy pillow
Pregnancy pillows conform to the shape of the protruding abdomen. They support the neck, back, knees, and hips, relieving pressure on joints.
4- Stretching and exercises (be gentle)
Stretching exercises and pregnancy-safe workouts make muscles more elastic and relax your body. Remember to start off slowly so you don’t injure yourself.
5- Take up prenatal yoga
Prenatal yoga is a great way of easing tension in the neck and shoulders. It provides wholesome movement, lets you focus on your breathing, and improves flexibility. Best to ask a physiotherapist which movements are safe for you.
6- Try the tennis ball trick
Take a tennis ball and place it where your neck, upper back, and shoulders meet. Roll it around gently with your hand over sore areas. (You can also put the ball between your body and a wall).
7- Talk to your doctor about OTC pain medication
We’re putting this lower down the list because most pregnant women try to avoid unnecessary pain medication during the term (only 6% use pain medication throughout the term, says one medical review).
Check if your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication.
8- See a therapist for pregnancy neck pain
Talk to a Licensed Physiotherapist About Your Neck Pain During Pregnancy
The tips above are for informational purposes only and it’s vital to speak to a healthcare professional about your neck pain during pregnancy.
Women experience a lot of changes in their bodies during pregnancy, meaning neck pain and pregnancy go hand-in-hand. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through them throughout your pregnancy.
Book your 20-minute video appointment and talk to a licensed physiotherapist from the comfort of your home. We help women in all stages of pregnancy manage and alleviate discomfort so they can sleep better, lead normal lives, and cherish their pregnancies.