Pregnancy and your feet

"Oh, my aching, swollen feet!" Most pregnant women, already handling so many changes in their bodies, find themselves echoing this complaint.

It's no wonder. Changes in body shape and weight triggered by pregnancy can effect the lower extremities in numerous ways. Tired, sore and swollen feet are common. Understanding the causes of foot pain and learning easy home treatments can help women step more comfortably throughout these special nine months.

Dr. Suzanne Belyea, Medical Director of Foot.com, explains that the natural weight gain experienced during pregnancy alters a woman's center of gravity, changing her weight-bearing stance and adding pressure to the knees and feet.

"One of the most common foot conditions brought on by pregnancy is over-pronation, or a weakening of the arches commonly known as flat feet," Dr. Belyea says. Over-pronation can make walking painful and increase strain on the calves and/or back.

If flat feet are left untreated, serious disorders such as Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain) and Plantar Fasciitis, (intense heel pain) can result. The condition can be avoided or treated, however, by wearing properly fitting footwear that provides extra arch support. Dr. Belyea recommends comfortable athletic shoes, as well as over-the-counter orthotics that support the arches or cushion a painful heel or ball of the foot.

Another common foot condition brought on by pregnancy is edema, or swelling, caused by pressure from the uterus that leads to hampered circulation. Edema generally occurs later in pregnancy and is considered normal unless accompanied by swelling of the face or hands.

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