If you are experiencing lower back pain while pregnant you are not alone. Reports indicate that between 50%-70% have some form of back pain during their pregnancy.
Back pain can be noted during any point of the pregnancy but most often occurs later as the weight of the baby increases. It is almost safe to say that back pain should be expected at some point during the pregnancy.
It is important to differentiate between the two types of lower pack pain during pregnancy. (1) Lumbar pain is located above the waist and in the center of the spine. This pain can be associated with typical lumbar strain seen in many individuals. With this the pregnant women usually does not experience radiating pain down the leg (known as sciatica) (2) Pelvic pain is more prevalent during pregnancy where the pain is located in the pelvic region and to the side of the waist. Here it is common for the posterior pelvic pain to extend down into the the buttock, groin and posterior thigh.
In this article I will discuss causes and treatment of back pain during pregnancy.
Some of the more common causes of back pain with pregnancy are (1) normal weight gain during pregnancy (usual typical gain is 25-35 pounds); thus the spine has to support that added weight resulting in bio mechanical stress and pain. There is also pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the pelvis and back from the added weight (2) postural changes from pregnancy causes the center of gravity to shift forward causing stress on the back. All motions of the body and walking are performed in a poor postural alignment (3) hormone changes during pregnancy results in the release of relaxin which works on the joints and ligaments to relax. This makes delivering of the baby easier but can cause ligaments to relax too much near the spine; this leads to spinal instability and discomfort (4) muscle separation of the rectus abdominis causing weakening of a major abdominal muscle thus losing anterior support on the spine; pressure is now increased on the lower back and (5) Emotional stress can cause muscles to tense in the lower back region. There is a direct relationship between the presence of muscle spasms and back pain.
With pregnancy there are limitations what treatment can be given but that does not mean relief is out of the question! (1) it is extremely important to perform regular exercise to strengthen muscles and maintain flexibility; there are safe exercises to do such as walking, swimming and stationary bike; it is highly recommended to see a physical therapist to individualize a program of abdominal and back stretching/strengthening (2) can apply cold applications when pain is acute then go to heat as pain decreases (3) must think about posture all the time when sitting, standing, working or sleeping; any time you slouch there is a direct strain on the back; learn positions that eliminate low back stress such as sleeping with a pillow between the knees, support the back while sitting, rest the feet on a stool if sitting upright and always keep your shoulders back (walking or sitting) (4) Studies have shown that acupuncture can be helpful and (5) when performed correctly chiropractic manipulation of the spine is safe during pregnancy but must consult with your doctor.
The good news with pregnancy if you are experiencing back pain is that the pain most of the time will gradually ease before you give birth! Don’t have anxiety performing regular exercise routinely.