Overall rating



M-Th 9am - 6pm

Neck Pain: Relieving Neck and Shoulder Pain during Pregnancy

Patient ResourcesContact Us
A pregnant woman with black hair sitting on the edge of her bed wearing a brown tank top and gray sweat pants with one hand on her thigh and the other hand on the back of her neck looking like she is experiencing pain.

Denton Chiropractor serving patients in Argyle, Aubrey, Denton, Flower Mound, Frisco, Justin, Krum, Lake Dallas, Lewisville, Little Elm, Pilot Point, Ponder, and Sanger.

Neck Pain can be a common occurrence during pregnancy. Back, shoulder, and neck pain plague many pregnant women throughout the course of their pregnancy. However, the pain typically becomes more problematic later in pregnancy. When sleep is so vitally important for a pregnant individual, neck pain can really put a kink into getting a good night’s rest.

The experts here at A Family Chiropractic Clinic in Denton, Texas want to help all expectant mothers find relief. Pregnancy can really wear on a woman’s body. This makes her uncomfortable, sore, and tired. With medication limitations during pregnancy, many women turn to other options to find relief.

Common Causes of Neck Pain While Pregnant

Like every person, every pregnancy is unique. As a result, it’s not uncommon for some people to experience pain early on in pregnancy while others experience it in the second and third trimesters of their pregnancy. However, usually at some point, back, neck, and shoulder pain occurs.

Here are just a few reasons why you may be experiencing neck pain during your pregnancy:

  1. Ectopic Pregnancy – If you begin experiencing neck or shoulder pain during the first trimester then it could be an indication you may have an ectopic pregnancy. This is a life-threatening condition, and you should see your doctor immediately.
  2. Hormones – Pregnancy hormones progesterone and relaxin work to loosen joints and ligaments to prepare your body for delivery. However, the hormones don’t just target the pelvic region. This means they’re also impacting your other joints throughout your body, making you more susceptible to muscle aches and joint pains.
  3. Shifting Center of Gravity – As your baby grows and becomes heavier, your center of gravity will naturally shift. This change tends to set off a chain reaction for your posture, spinal curvature, muscle use, and more.
  4. Poor Posture – Posture is a leading cause of neck and shoulder pain, and even back pain in many individuals. However, pregnant women may be more susceptible to pain resulting from bad posture. Hunching over a desk at work or a mobile device is typically the number one culprit when it comes to poor posture.
  5. Changes in Spinal Curvature – The added weight of the developing baby can lead to curvature changes in the spine. As a result, the neck muscles and back muscles attempt to compensate to keep your spine in alignment. This can lead to aches and pains.
  6. Managing Day-to-Day Tasks – A growing belly impacts your life in ways you may not realize. Every physical movement compensates for the added weight, the shift in your center of gravity, and your mobility. It’s no surprise movements that didn’t bother you before are becoming more difficult and even painful.
  7. Overexertion – Because your body is having to adapt to new ways of moving and doing things, you’re likely using muscles in a way you aren’t used to. These muscles have a greater chance to become overexerted which can lead to aches, pain, and injury.
  8. Lack of Exercise – Since pregnancy is so uncomfortable for many women, it’s not uncommon to take a break from your regular exercise routine. However, it’s important to still do doctor-approved exercises to prevent muscles from experiencing atrophy and tightening. Without adequate movement, you may be causing yourself more pain.

Neck Pain and Pregnancy Hormones

When a woman’s body becomes pregnant, and as it nears delivery, many hormones are released to help relax ligaments throughout the body. This change contributes to an easier labor, however, can make getting comfortable quite the task. As ligaments, muscles, and joints become more flexible to make room for the growing baby, they need more support.

As the back and neck fight to accommodate the change in center of gravity, they are required to support more weight than they are used to. This additional weight combined with the change in center of gravity can put a large amount of strain on the back and neck. Muscles become sore as they balance the changes that have occurred.

A pregnant woman’s body is under strain from the changes she’s experiencing due to the pregnancy. This also makes everyday tasks more challenging and difficult. Movements that were painless before may now cause discomfort. The stress of daily activities can leave a pregnant woman feeling more exhausted and sorer than she would otherwise be if she were not expecting. However, with the proper support, some of this pain can be reduced and prevented.

Support to Prevent Back and Neck Pains during Pregnancy

A pregnant woman can help ease pain and get much-needed rest by ensuring her body is properly supported as she sleeps. Finding a comfortable sleeping position is difficult for many women. However, using support pillows can help contribute to a restful night of sleep. It’s important to not get carried away and use too many pillows. The quality and location of the support pillows are much more important than the number of pillows.

In early pregnancy, it’s recommended when sleeping on the back to use a pillow under the knees and another under the head and neck. Doctors recommend sleeping on the side as the pregnancy progresses. To get comfortable on their side, many women choose to use a pregnancy support pillow. A pregnancy support pillow can be used between the knees to provide support to the hip joints, while gently cradling a growing belly and supporting the mother’s head and neck. For some women, it’s also beneficial to use a second small pillow behind their back to offer additional support.

Staying active during pregnancy with exercises cleared by your doctor can also help strengthen back muscles and relieve back and neck pain. Prenatal yoga is a popular option that features gentle positions that help expectant mothers relax and release tension. Daily neck exercises and stretching can also help reduce pressure and provide pregnancy pain relief.

If the pain persists despite support, exercise, and stretches then your doctor may recommend using ice packs to treat neck pain. An ice pack will help reduce pain and swelling. A heating pad, warm bath, or shower can also be used to help relieve pain and tension in the neck, shoulders, and back. However, it’s important to follow all guidelines for heating pads in order to use them safely.

When Neck and Shoulder Pain Indicate a Problem

There are instances during pregnancy where neck and shoulder pain could indicate a serious problem. In the early weeks of pregnancy, severe neck and shoulder pain could indicate an ectopic pregnancy. If you suspect this could be a possibility, then it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Most ectopic pregnancies aren’t diagnosed until the mother notices excessive pain or bleeding. It’s important to see your doctor right away as an untreated ectopic pregnancy can quickly become life-threatening.

Preeclampsia is another problem that presents with shoulder and neck pain during pregnancy. This is also a serious condition that can lead to death for mothers and their unborn children. Complications from preeclampsia and eclampsia occur in approximately 25% of all pregnancies. It is extremely dangerous to both mother and child and requires immediate medical attention.

Meningitis can also present with neck pain. It is an inflammatory disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis typically presents with a headache, fever, and stiffness in the neck. Meningitis is caused by a number of infections such as listeriosis. It is dangerous to both mother and child.

Seeking Assistance for Back, Shoulder, and Neck Pain

While most neck pain during pregnancy is harmless, there are instances where it can be more severe. If you have any doubts about what your back, shoulder, or neck pain could mean then reach out to your doctor. In cases that have the potential to be life-threatening, it’s better to speak with a doctor just to be safe.

If your neck pain is benign but you can’t find any relief, your doctor may recommend alternative treatment. Many doctors recommend that you see a chiropractor. Since carrying a child is so stressful on the spine, it’s easy for a pregnant woman’s back and neck to fall out of alignment. A trained and experienced chiropractor will help realign the spine to reduce back and neck pain.

4 Ways to Ease Neck Pain and Discomfort During Pregnancy

There are a variety of ways to ease neck pain, back pain, and general discomfort during pregnancy.

Do Prenatal Yoga

Many of our clients enjoy participating in prenatal yoga classes. Yoga is a fantastic way to improve strength and flexibility. For many people, it’s also very calm and soothing which can reduce stress hormones.

Take Magnesium

Research indicates that magnesium deficiency during pregnancy can increase hypertension and premature labor. Check to see if your prenatal vitamins include magnesium. If not, speak with your doctor to learn more about high-magnesium foods or pregnancy-friendly supplements.

Use a Back and Neck Support Pillow

Getting a good night’s rest while pregnant can be difficult, especially further along in pregnancy. If you can’t get comfortable then you may experience additional neck pain or back pain the following day. One of the best ways to get a good quality sleep while supporting your changing body is to use a back and neck support pillow. Pregnancy pillows are a great option for expectant mothers because they can support your entire body. If you don’t have access to a pregnancy pillow, you can use a good pillow under your head, and another between your knees and ankles to support your top leg when you sleep on your side. Placing a pillow behind your back can also help relieve some tension and pressure. You may also want to try placing a pillow under your belly to help provide support.

Get Adjusted by A Chiropractor

Sometimes, you can do everything “right” during your pregnancy and still experience back pain and neck pain. This is likely because your changing body and the added weight of the baby have pulled your spine out of alignment. Making an appointment with a chiropractor who has experience with adjusting pregnant women can make a huge difference when it comes to lessening or eliminating neck pain and back pain and making you more comfortable overall.

Home Remedies for Neck Pain During Pregnancy

When neck pain strikes, you may not have the option to visit your chiropractor right away. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to get temporary relief until your next appointment.

  1. Warm Compress – A warm compress applied to the neck daily can help soothe sore muscles and reduce neck pain during pregnancy.
  2. Cold Compress – Some people prefer a cold compress. Placing a covered ice pack on the back of the neck can also help relieve pain.
  3. Get Better Pillows – Make sure you’re using a pillow that works for you. Too many pillows under the head can cause neck and back pain. Similarly, if your pillow doesn’t provide enough support you may also experience pain in the neck and back. A maternity pillow is a body-sized pillow that can offer support for a number of areas including your head and neck, back, belly, hips, knees, and more.
  4. Stretching – Don’t underestimate the power of stretching. A good stretch can provide back pain and neck pain relief during pregnancy. In addition, stretching helps lengthen your muscles, relieve stress, and relax your body. Ask your chiropractor about effective, pregnancy-safe stretches, yoga positions, or other pregnancy-safe exercises.
  5. Hydrotherapy – Next time you’re in the shower, adjust your showerhead to massage your sore neck for a few minutes with hot water, then cold water for one minute. After repeating this a few times, you will notice the pain improving. This is because the hot water will stimulate your blood circulation to ease your sore muscles and then the cold water helps reduce any inflammation.
  6. Swimming – Swimming is a great way to get moving and enjoy the benefits of exercise while also allowing the water to help support the weight of your growing belly. Speak with your doctor about safe swimming practices while pregnant.
  7. Get a Neck Massage – Getting a professional neck massage from a physical therapist or other trained professional is a great way to decrease or eliminate neck and back pain. You can also ask your spouse or someone in the family to rub your neck or back after a warm bath for best results. Another option is to use a tennis ball against a wall or other flat surface. Place the ball between your back and the wall and gently lean into it until you feel the desired amount of pressure. Rolling the ball against the wall with your back can help you massage the painful area.

If you’re experiencing neck pain during your pregnancy


If you have any questions about back, shoulder, or neck pain during pregnancy, please contact A Family Chiropractic Clinic in Denton, Texas at (940) 566-0000.

Frequently Asked Questions