Women at increased risk of bone injury during pregnancy
This Sunday marks Mother’s Day, the annual event to celebrate all mothers in our society, and with this in mind, this article focuses specifically on facts and advice for soon-to-be mothers to ensure they don’t fall victim to joint or bone injury.
Mr Simon Moyes, consultant orthopaedic surgeon (www.simonmoyes.com) at The Wellington Hospital (www.thewellingtonhospital.com/) comments: “Pregnancy puts an unprecedented extra strain on women’s joints. The weight during pregnancy combined with the release of ligament relaxing hormones can lead to a susceptibility to joint injuries. The most common injuries after pregnancy that I see are women suffering with anterior knee pain and there is a high incidence of ankle ligament injuries.
“Pregnancy can also lead to changes in the centre of gravity, by altering the posture and gait, which can also contribute to joint pains. Pelvic pain, low back and hip pain are frequently encountered but in particular I see pains in the knee and ankle.
“Pregnancy hormones aim to relax the pelvic area in preparation for child-birth, but these hormones also lead to relaxation in other joints all over the body, which can render the person more vulnerable to injury.”
While healthy bones are important at every stage of life, during pregnancy and from the ages of 20 onwards, women’s peak bone mass will begin to decline, making women not only more at risk of injury but also to poor bone health and osteoporosis. Simon Moyes comments, “Women are inherently more at risk of osteoporosis than men. Osteoporosis is caused by a low bone mass and women on the whole have a lower bone density than men. Men automatically have more bone mass “in the bank” and therefore are less likely to develop it as they age.
“This is why women over the age of 50 are twice as likely to develop an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime – one in two women, compared to one in four for men. Therefore, in order to help slow bone mass, regular exercise and correct nutrition are needed. Not enough women do regular weight-bearing exercise, but this is helpful in keeping bone mass at its peak and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.”