Why Should I See a Physical Therapist During Pregnancy? Signs and Symptoms Physical Therapy Can Help

This post is Part I in a 4-part series highlighting the benefits of physical therapy during pregnancy. Be sure to check out all four segments!

Pregnancy is undoubtedly a time of big changes. Physically, weight gain alone can create changes in posture and stress on your body, not to mention the uterus and baby pushing your internal organs into new spaces.

If you start pregnancy already a bit off-kilter, underlying problems that don't typically cause much trouble can end up becoming sources of major pain and discomfort as your pregnancy continues.

Pregnancy comes with hormonal changes as well. Some of these hormones cause your joints to become looser, which can make it easier for an otherwise healthy person to begin experiencing pain during pregnancy.

So, what symptoms or issues are able to be addressed by physical therapy (PT) during pregnancy?

The following list highlights issues that can often be alleviated or completely avoided during pregnancy with assistance from a Physical Therapist:

Sciatic nerve running through back of leg

Sciatic nerve running through back of leg

  • Lower back pain
  • Sciatic nerve pain - this is most often thought of as pain in the butt (literally!), especially on one side. However, the nerve runs through the entire leg, so any discomfort down the back of the leg, behind the knee, and all the way to the heels could be related to sciatic issues
  • Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction - pain in the pubic bone joint
  • Diastasis Recti - separation of the muscles of the abdominal wall. *Please note, some amount of separation is normal during pregnancy due to the nature of the growing uterus pushing out on those muscles. 
  • Frequent and/or painful urination
  • Restless legs
  • Sacroiliac joint pain (that's the area of your lower back on either side of the spine, above your tailbone)
  • Round ligament pain
  • Rib pain
  • Carpal Tunnel pain
  • Other general aches and pains that may not be specifically pregnancy related but may have to do with posture, repetitive motion, etc

If you are in the Memphis area, Amy Moses is a wonderful physical therapist for before, during, and after pregnancy. There are of course multiple other physical therapy offices in Memphis, and after reading part four of this series, you'll know exactly how to find the right one for you!

I personally consider my first ever PT visit to Amy to be like a miracle. I walked out of that appointment nearly in (happy) tears because not only did we have a plan to keep SPD at bay, but she was also able to relieve me of pain I'd been having for years in my back. I had assumed the back pain was just something to live with - and she fixed it in literally less than one hour!

While of course not every issue can be resolved so easily or quickly, I wholeheartedly recommend at least a consultation with a physical therapist to see what they can do for you. You may be very pleasantly surprised!  

In Part II of this series, I'll share what to expect at your physical therapy appointments. Part III will explain how physical therapy can help with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction in particular. In Part IV of this series, you will learn how to pick the best physical therapist for you. 

Have you ever done physical therapy? Did it help? If you haven't, does this make you want to give it a try? I hope you do!