By Matthew A. Dobzyniak, MD

Hip pain is a common occurrence during pregnancy. The pain is generally located over the side or the back of the hip, and is usually made worse by being on one’s feet. It’s possible that the pain might be sharp at times, especially when bearing weight.

Here’s a timeline of the pains you might experience during pregnancy and what could be causing your discomfort.

Pregnancy Hip Pain in the First Trimester

In the first trimester, there are typically no musculoskeletal issues causing hip pain. Since the size of the fetus is very small at this point, no pressure is being caused. Thus, complications are rare. You may not be experiencing any pain at all.

Pregnancy Hip Pain in the Second Trimester

As the second trimester arrives and the baby grows, early mechanical complaints start to emerge. This is typically neurologically-generated pain and may include pressure on the lumbar spine and sciatic pain. In the second trimester, there is still not that much pain derived from the preparatory process for delivery, because it is so early in the pregnancy.

Hip Pain During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

In the third trimester, mechanical complaints either begin, if they did not previously exist, stay consistent, or worsen. As the mother begins to prepare for delivery, however, hormones allow the ligaments to become looser. This is when additional problems may begin to take place.

One of the more severe causes of hip pain is what’s known as transient osteoporosis. Women may be afflicted by transient osteoporosis in their second or third trimesters and no one is certain as to why this occurs. Since this affliction causes the body to start removing bone structure in an isolated area, one thought into the cause is that the body is being robbed of calcium and potassium during pregnancy.

In cases of transient osteoporosis, pain is felt in the groin. An MRI is needed to diagnose the condition, although it’s easy to spot due to the large amount of fluid in the affected area. The healing process generally resolves itself in about six weeks, but the main concern is that the condition could lead to a fracture of the hip.

Caring for Pregnancy Hip Pain

When experiencing hip pain during pregnancy, avoid being on your feet as much as possible. Many doctors incorporate the use of crutches to keep a mom-to-be from bearing weight on the affected joint. Medicines such as Tylenol are always ok to use, and localized cortisone steroid injections may be utilized as well.  If the pain continues, you may want to consider seeing an orthopedic specialist.

If you have further questions on hip pain during pregnancy, please do not hesitate to contact us.