What Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain During Pregnancy?

What Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain During Pregnancy?

A woman's body changes a lot throughout pregnancy, resulting in problems like pain, vomiting, and more. Shoulder and neck pain are typical responses of the body during pregnancy. An estimated 40% of women complain of shoulder and neck pain during this period. But these symptoms can indicate serious issues that need medical attention. So never ignore any irregular and severe pain.

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What Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain During Pregnancy?


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There are various reasons for pain depending on individual lifestyle and pregnancy type. Here I am sharing things you need to know, reasons, and solutions of neck and shoulder pain during pregnancy. Use a percussion massager for it.


Common causes of shoulder and back pain

Shoulder pain during pregnancy is normal and often directly related to pregnancy. The main reason for this pain is that muscles and joints adjust according to the fetus's needs. Stiffness and little pain are standard, but you should consult a doctor if it gets unbearable. Shoulder pain can lead to serious issues, so keeping track of unusual pain is important to avoid future problems.

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First trimester

Your body releases relaxin hormones throughout the pregnancy. Relaxin plays a vital role in helping your body adapt to the change. This special hormone helps the body mold according to the fetus's requirements for survival. With all these changes, relaxin also loosens your joints which can cause pain.

If you encounter severe pain at the start of pregnancy, it can signify an ectopic pregnancy which means implantation of the embryo outside the uterus. Pain at the tip of your shoulder, between shoulder and hand, during 1-3 months can indicate an ectopic pregnancy. These symptoms need urgent visits to the doctor to avoid future risks.

There are many other symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. Shoulder and neck pain are just two of them. The following symptoms may also indicate an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Nausea
  • Vomit
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating and vaginal pain
  • Cramping and pain

Second trimester

The body faces drastic changes in the second trimester, and the baby bump becomes visible. Body changes lead to changes in lifestyle, posture, sleeping style, and sleep schedule.

Pregnancy hormones can lead to unexpected effects such as gallstones, right shoulder pain, abdominal pain, and back pain. These symptoms typically appear in the second and third trimesters. 

All these changes can cause shoulder, back, and neck pain.

If you notice any such symptoms, it's best to consult your doctor.

Third trimester

During the third trimester, the body has to adjust to carrying a grown baby—the baby's weight molds to the shape of the spine and muscles of the mother. Research shows that the spine of a pregnant woman during the last months of pregnancy is more curved at the hip area than a non-pregnant woman. The spine takes on the shape of an S to hold baby weight. These body changes are natural but often affect the shoulder and neck muscles.

Shoulder pain is common because of hormonal, lifestyle, muscle, and joint changes. If you face these standard conditions, remember to consult a doctor and take good care at home.

Causes of neck pain during pregnancy

Neck pain is common during pregnancy because new life is growing in a woman's body. Added weight adds pressure and can result in neck pain. If you feel pain, there can be many reasons. First, visit your doctor, and if everything is normal, these are some common factors responsible for neck pain during pregnancy.

Poor posture

Poor posture is one of the primary reasons behind neck pain. Because of poor posture, the spine behind your throat adopts excess strain, causing pain. During pregnancy, the body passes through changes that weaken the body, and changing their posture results in neck pain.

Muscle strain

Hormonal changes like excess production of relaxin that affect muscles and joints. Due to weakness, your neck muscles hurt. On the other hand, it can be due to a disturbed sleep cycle. Pregnancy affects the lifestyle and habits of a woman, and less sleep and irregular sleep is the cause of these changes.


Headache is a common symptom in early pregnancy. It often gets better with time but affects neck muscles. These headaches can be due to high blood pressure, hormonal changes, nausea, or weight gain.

How to reduce neck and shoulder pain during pregnancy

Shoulder and neck pain during pregnancy is common but can be a symptom of a serious issue. If you ever experience severe neck pain during pregnancy along with other symptoms, firstly visit a doctor to ensure the absence of any critical issues. During that period, you can practice many things to avoid or reduce pain. Here I am sharing some healthy tips to add ease to your life.

Prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga is highly recommended for pregnant women, whether they feel pain or not. The essential purpose of parental yoga is to keep your body in good condition, control breathing, and reduce fatigue. There are many yoga postures; visit a professional yoga trainer to find the right one.

Yoga keeps your body in shape and your mind centered. Deep breathing reduces tension from your neck and shoulder to keep them relaxed.


Massage therapy can be great for pregnant women, similar to yoga. Consult your doctor to determine if massage therapy is safe.

There are many other factors if you keep them in control; it can help you to stave off aching shoulders or severe neck pain during pregnancy.

  • Increase protein intake
  • Stay hydrated
  • Regular exercise and walk
  • Avoid fast and fried food
  • Decrease salt intake
  • Don't stand longer

The bottom line

If you face any of these symptoms, it is normal, but it's time to pay attention and visit your doctor if you find anything abnormal or concerning. Reasons for pain include hormonal changes, the pressure of a baby's weight, spinal changes, and lifestyle changes.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and healthy eating is important to save you from pain. You can protect your body from disturbance because you know yourself more than anyone else.

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