How to Reduce Neck and Shoulder Pain During Pregnancy
21 October 2022

How to Reduce Neck and Shoulder Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can lead to neck and or shoulder pain. Throughout their pregnancy, many pregnant women experience back, shoulder, or neck pain. The pain is more severe later in pregnancy. Neck pain can make it difficult for pregnant women to get a good night’s sleep. Learn how to reduce neck pain during your pregnancy. 

Our family Chiropractic Clinic in Clarendon Hills, IL is here to offer relief for expectant mothers. The effects of pregnancy can be very hard on a woman’s health. This can make her feel tired, sore, and uncomfortable. Many women seek relief from medication restrictions during pregnancy.


Pregnancy Neck Pain: Common Causes

Every pregnancy is different, just like every person. It’s not unusual for people to feel pain in their first trimester of pregnancy, while others may experience it during the second or third trimester. Most often, however, pain in the back, neck, and shoulders occurs at some point. These are just a few of the reasons you might be experiencing neck pain while pregnant:

  • Ectopic Pregnancy: If you experience neck or shoulder pains during your first trimester, it may be an indication that you might have an ectopic baby. This can be life-threatening and should be reported to your doctor immediately.
  • Hormones: The pregnancy hormones progesterone and relaxin loosen ligaments and joints to prepare for birth. The hormones aren’t limited to the pelvic area. They also affect your other joints, making it more likely that you will experience joint pains and muscle aches.
  • Your center of gravity shifts: As your baby gets heavier and grows, your center will naturally shift. This can cause a chain reaction in your posture, spine curvature, muscle usage, and many other things.
  • Poor posture: Poor posture is a major cause of neck, shoulder, and back pain. Bad posture can lead to more pain in pregnant women. Poor posture is often caused by hunching over a computer at work or on a mobile phone.
  • Spinal Curvature Changes: An increase in weight can cause changes in the curvature of the spine. The neck muscles and back muscles try to correct this to maintain a straight spine. This can cause aches and discomfort.
  • How to manage day-to-day tasks: Your life is affected by your belly. Every movement you make compensates for your weight and mobility. It is not surprising that movements that weren’t so bothersome before are now more painful and difficult.
  • Overexertion: Your body is adapting to new ways to move and do things. This means that you may be using muscles in ways you aren’t used to. Overexertion can cause injury, pain, and aches in these muscles.
  • Inactivity and Lack of Exercise: Because pregnancy can be so painful for many women it is common to stop exercising. To prevent muscle atrophy and tightening, you should still exercise as directed by your doctor. You could be causing yourself further pain by not moving enough.

Pregnancy Hormones and Neck Pain

Many hormones are released when a woman becomes pregnant and as she nears giving birth, to relax the ligaments. While this helps to make labor easier, it can also make it difficult to get comfortable. They will need more support as ligaments, muscles, joints, and other structures become more flexible in order to accommodate the baby’s growing needs.

The neck and back must support more weight as the center of gravity shifts. The extra weight and the shift in the center of gravity can cause significant strain to the neck and back. As they attempt to balance the changes, muscles can become sore.

The changes that a pregnant woman experiences during pregnancy can put a strain on her body. This makes daily tasks more difficult and challenging. Even movements that were once painless can now be painful. A pregnant woman may feel more tired and stressed out from daily activities than she would if she weren’t expecting. With the right support, you can reduce or even prevent some of this discomfort.

Preventing Back and Neck Pains During Pregnancy

Pregnant women can ease pain and get rest by making sure their body is supported while she sleeps. Many women struggle to find a comfortable position for sleeping. Support pillows can be helpful in getting a good night’s sleep. Don’t get too excited about using too many pillows. More important than the number of pillows is the quality and placement of the support pillows.

It is recommended that you sleep on your back during early pregnancy. A pillow should be placed under the knees and another one under the head and neck. As the pregnancy progresses, doctors recommend that you sleep on your side. Many women opt to sleep on their sides, using a pregnancy support pillow. The pregnancy support pillow can be placed between the knees to support the hip joints. It also gently supports the mother’s head, neck, and growing belly. To provide additional support, some women may find it helpful to have a small pillow placed behind their backs.

Exercises that are approved by your doctor may help you strengthen your back muscles and reduce back and neck pain. Prenatal yoga, which features gentle positions to help expectant moms relax and let go of tension, is a popular choice. Stretching and daily neck exercises can help relieve pain and pressure during pregnancy.

Your doctor may recommend ice packs for neck pain if the pain does not go away despite your efforts to exercise and support. Ice packs can reduce swelling and pain. To ease tension and pain in the neck, shoulders, and back, a heating pad, warm bath or shower can be used. To ensure safety, you must follow all instructions for heating pads.

When neck or shoulder pain is serious

Sometimes, pregnancy can present with severe neck or shoulder pain. In the first weeks of pregnancy, severe shoulder and neck pain can indicate an ectopic baby. It’s important that you seek medical attention immediately if you suspect an ectopic pregnancy. Most ectopic pregnancies don’t get diagnosed until the mother experiences severe pain or bleeding. Untreated ectopic pregnancies can quickly turn into life-threatening.

Preeclampsia can cause neck and shoulder pains during pregnancy. This serious condition can cause death for both mothers and unborn children. Preeclampsia complications and eclampsia are common in 25% of pregnancies. It can be extremely dangerous for both mother and baby and needs immediate medical attention.

Meningitis may also cause neck pain. This is an inflammatory disease that affects both the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis is characterized by a headache, fever, stiffness, and swelling of the neck. A variety of infections can cause meningitis, including listeriosis. It can be deadly for both mother and baby.

Need help with neck, shoulder, or back pain?

Most neck pain experienced during pregnancy is mild, but there are some cases when it can become more severe. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure about the cause of your neck, shoulder, and back pain. Talking to a doctor is advisable in cases where the possibility of life-threatening complications exists.

Your doctor might recommend an alternative treatment if your neck pain is not severe but persists. A chiropractor is recommended by many doctors. Because carrying a baby is so hard on the spine, it’s common for pregnant women’s neck and back to become misaligned. To reduce neck and back pain, a skilled and experienced chiropractor can realign the spine.

Four Ways to Reduce Neck Pain and Discomfort during Pregnancy

There are many ways to reduce neck pain, back pain, or general discomfort during pregnancy. Here are some great tips on how to avoid or reduce neck pain while pregnant.

Prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga is a popular option for many of our clients. Yoga can help you increase your flexibility and strength. It’s a great way to increase strength and flexibility.


Research shows that magnesium deficiency in pregnancy can lead to hypertension and premature labor. Make sure you are taking magnesium-rich prenatal vitamins. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure if you should be taking high-magnesium foods and pregnancy-friendly supplements.

Use a Neck and Back Support Pillow

It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep during pregnancy, especially if you are further along. You may feel more neck pain or back pain if you are unable to get comfortable. A neck and back support pillow is a great way to have a restful night. Because they support your whole body, pregnancy pillows are an excellent choice for expectant moms. You can also use a pillow between your knees and ankles for support if you aren’t able to afford a pregnancy pillow. A pillow placed behind your back can help to relieve tension and pressure. To provide support, you might also consider placing a pillow underneath your stomach.

Have your Chiropractor Adjust You

Sometimes you may not be able to do everything right during pregnancy. Your spine may be out of alignment due to your baby’s weight and your changing body. A chiropractor with experience in adjusting pregnant women’s spines can make a big difference in reducing or eliminating pain in the neck and back, and overall making you feel more comfortable.


Pregnancy Neck Pain: Home Remedies

You may not be able to see your chiropractor immediately if you are suffering from neck pain. There are some things you can do until your next appointment to temporarily relieve neck pain.

  1. Warm Compress – A warm compress that is applied daily to the neck can soothe sore muscles, reduce pain and help with discomfort during pregnancy.
  2. Cold Compress – Some people like a cold compress. A covered icepack placed on the back of your neck can help to relieve pain.
  3. You can get better pillows – Choose a pillow that suits you. Too many pillows can cause back and neck pain. If your pillow is not supportive enough, you might also feel pain in your neck and back. A maternity pillow can be a pillow of body size that supports a variety of areas, including your neck and back, belly, hips, and knees, as well as your head and neck.
  4. Stretching – Do not underestimate the power and benefits of stretching. Stretching can help with back pain and neck pain during pregnancy. Stretching can also help relax your body, reduce stress, and lengthen your muscles. Ask your chiropractor for safe, effective stretches and yoga positions that are pregnancy-safe.
  5. Hydrotherapy – Next time you are in the shower adjust your showerhead so that your neck is massaged for a few seconds with hot water and then for one minute with cold water. You will feel the pain diminish after repeating this several times. The hot water stimulates blood circulation and relieves sore muscles. Cold water reduces inflammation.
  6. Swimming – Swimming can be a great way for you to move and get the benefits of exercise. It also allows the water to support your growing belly’s weight. Talk to your doctor about safe swimming techniques while pregnant.
  7. Get a Neck Massage – Professional neck massages from a physical therapist or another trained professional are a great way of reducing or eliminating neck and back pain. For the best results, ask your spouse or a member of your family to rub your neck and back after a warm bath. You can also use a tennis ball against any flat surface or wall. You can place the ball between your back, and against the wall. Then, gently lean in towards the ball until you feel the right amount of pressure. Massage the area by rolling the ball against the wall using your back.

If you’re experiencing neck pain during your pregnancy, contact us today!

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