Backache and back pain in pregnancy is widespread, especially in the first and the last trimester. It is estimated that approximately 50% to 70% of pregnant women experience some form of backache during pregnancy. Such pain can be caused by several factors and may range from mild pain secondary to specific activities to acute and sharp back pain that can lead to lingering chronic back pain.
Studies show that back pain usually occurs at the end of the first trimester and somewhere between the sixth and eight months of pregnancy. Women with pre-existing back conditions are at higher risk for backache and pain.
Is back pain normal during pregnancy?
Backache is a common pregnancy problem that can affect many women, especially in the later months. Approximately 75% of pregnant women experience low back pain, pelvic pain or a combination of the two during pregnancy. Several factors are linked to causing back pain during pregnancy. They may include:
- Postural changes
- Increase in hormone levels
- Weight gain
- Stress on the body
- Muscle separation
Lower back pain in pregnancy usually resolves on its own after the childbirth. Severe back pain that may turn into chronic pain or that lasts longer than 2 to 3 weeks may require physical therapy or medical intervention. Back pain that’s accompanied by vaginal bleeding, fever, or burning urination shouldn’t be ignored. Contact your physician or obstetrician right away if you experience these symptoms.
Causes of Back Pain in Pregnant Women
Sacroiliac joint (where the pelvis meets your spine) is the typical join involved in pregnancy-related back pain. According to medical literature, several causes and factors contribute to back pain during pregnancy. The common ones include:
- Weight gain –Studies have shown that most women can gain up to 25 to 35 pounds (or more than 10 kilos) during pregnancy. The body weight plus the outward growth of the fetus is supported by the spinal joints, especially the lumbar and sacral joints. This additional weight can put pressure on the joints, blood vessels, and nerves in the back and can lead to back pain.
- Posture changes – Postural change is another common risk factor for back pain during pregnancy. Due to growing uterus and baby, your body starts shifting it’s your center of gravity. This postural change can contribute to moderate to severe back pain. We will cover this in more detail below.
- Stress –Both emotional and physical stress is linked to causing muscle ache in the back. Pregnant ladies with physical or emotional distress may experience muscle spasms and rigidity in the back.
- Hormonal changes –During the first trimester, your body starts producing relaxin – a hormone that allows pelvic ligaments to relax. It also helps loosen the pelvic joints to prepare the pelvis for childbirth. However, over secretion of relaxin cause loosening of the spinal ligaments, leading to lower back pain.
- Muscle separation –With the expansion of the uterus, the growing baby puts pressure on the rectus abdominis muscles and cause tearing or separation of the muscle sheath. Separation of the rectus abdominis may contribute to back pain.
The few medications that a pregnant woman can take for pain are extremely limited because of concern for the baby and for possibly causing addiction. Some non-steroidal pain medications (NSAIDs) can cause premature changes in the baby’s heart. The medications that are available often do not help.
What types of pains should be concerning?
Women who experience pain, stiffness, or muscle spasms in the back during pregnancy should contact their health care provider or obstetrician if they experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain that lasts more than two weeks
- Difficulty or pain when urinating
- Irregular vaginal discharge
- A tingling sensation in the limbs
- Muscle cramps that occur at regular intervals
- Vaginal bleeding
Women who suffer these symptoms should discuss treatment options with their obstetrician. You should also discuss any naturopathic treatments, new medications, and supplements you are planning to take to relieve back pain.
Chiropractic Care for Back Pain during Pregnancy
It should be remembered that while pain is common during pregnancy, it is not normal and should not be expected. It is not simply part of being pregnant. Since many pain medications can adversely affect your baby, you need another option.
Chiropractic care is an effective and safe treatment option for pain during pregnancy. Chiropractic care addresses the biomechanical and motion issues involved in many pregnancy-related pains. If you are properly examined and cleared for treatment, chiropractic care does not present any health risks to you or your baby. Chiropractic care can help multiple areas of pain including the back, hips, neck, shoulder, foot and even headaches. A chiropractor should take a comprehensive health history and perform a physical exam on the initial visit and find out if there are an reason that you should not get chiropractic care.
One of the reasons that chiropractic care is so effective in treating back pain during pregnancy is due to the postural changes that occur. That wonderful belly has the tendency to pull on the low back and make you stick your butt out more and arch your back (sway back). This creates areas that get stuck and others that are too loose while jamming things together that should not be, causing irritation and pain. Chiropractic physicians like Dr. Bryan D. Royer, know how to evaluate the joints of the body to determine where to treat. Chiropractic adjustments allows irritated joints to move in a normal manner and reduces inflammation and pain. These adjustments can provide instant relief in a healthy way due to the fact that the body’s natural pain fighting chemical are released. Corrective exercises can get given to help you find relief and other treatments like Kinesio Taping and Graston Technique can be extremely effective at eliminating pain. It has been shown that chiropractic care when included as a part of a comprehensive prenatal care team holds greater benefit for pregnant patients than only using traditional obstetric care.
Dr. Royer has been helping pregnant women in Toledo find relief for over 15 years. Make chiropractic care a part of your comprehensive prenatal care team by calling 419-517-5055 for a New Patient appointment today.