Back Pain During Pregnancy

Back pain is common in pregnancy, but could and should be avoided.

It is estimated that between 50% and 80% of women experience some form of back pain during pregnancy.Such pain can range from mild pain associated with particular activities to acute back pain that can become chronic and last long after childbirth.However, there is a lot you can do to ease the discomfort and prevent it from becoming a long-term problem.

Studies show that back pain in pregnancy usually occurs between the fifth and seventh month of being pregnant as posture changes, the foetus grows and the ligament laxity caused by hormonal changes takes effect.The lower back forward curvature (or lordosis) becomes more pronounced and the reverse curve of the upper back (kyphosis) also increases. These changes result in back muscles overworking,compressionof the lumbar spine and dysfunction of the sacro-iliac joints. These problems are exacerbated with the underlying problem of back stiffness, which is common to the majority of us.

You are more likely to experience back pain during your pregnancy if you are overweight or if it is not your first pregnancy.You also have a higher risk of back pain if you have a pre-existing back problem.Strenuous work, previous back or pelvic pain, or injury to your pelvis can also increase your chance of back pain in pregnancy. In these situations you may find back pain occurring as early as 8 to 12 weeks after becoming pregnant.

So, if you are planning your pregnancy, it would make sense to minimize the risk of suffering back pain, sciatica or aching to your neck and shoulders. This can easily be achieved by getting yourself, especially your spine, in the best possible shape before you become pregnant with the use of Theraflexbeing an especially effective treatment.

The gentle nature of the Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) and CranialSacral Therapy used at The  BackCare Clinic means that they can be safely and effectively used to relieve pain at any time during pregnancy and are especially useful during the later stages, particularly if you are suffering from Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) where standard treatments usually don’t work.

Back pain in pregnancy can be divided into:

Neck, shoulder and back pain.In general pain felt during pregnancy is similar to pain experienced by non-pregnant women. This type of pain typically increases with prolonged postures (such as sitting, standing, or repetitive lifting), and tenderness may also be present in the muscles along the spine.

However, during pregnancy, your back may get more painful towards the end of the day or if you have been on your feet for a long time. This is because your muscles get tired and your ligaments stretch slightly from the weight of your body and baby.

Sciatica, inflammation or pressure from the lumbar and sacroiliac jointsonto one or more of the spinal nerves, which in this area form the sciatic nerve (which runs from your lower back to your feet).This can causepain that radiates into the leg or foot. You may also experience muscle weakness or pins and needles.Contrary to popular opinion, sciatica is not caused by your baby pressing on a nerve. The chances are that if you have sciatica, it may have come on whether you were pregnant or not.

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP),can also be experienced by non-pregnant women, sometimes as a result of a previous pregnancy. However, women are especially susceptible during pregnancy when hormonal changes cause ligament laxity around joints, particularly those of the pelvis.

Posterior pelvic pain (in the back of the pelvis) is four times more prevalent than lumbar pain in pregnancy. It is a deep pain felt below and to the side at the waistline, and/or below the waistline on either side across the tailbone.

Posterior pelvic pain in pregnancy can extend down into the buttock and upper portion of the posterior (in back of) thighs but does not usually radiate below the knees. It can be associated with pubic pain (symphisis pubis dysfunction). This pain does not quickly resolve with rest, and morning stiffness may also be present.

Posterior pelvic pain during pregnancy can be brought on or exacerbated by the following activities:

  • Rolling in bed
  • Climbing stairs
  • Sitting and rising from a seated position (such as getting in and out of cars, bathtubs, bed)
  • Lifting, twisting, bending forward
  • Running and walking.

A job that involves prolonged postures at extreme ranges (such as sitting at a computer and leaning forward, standing and leaning over a desk or workstation) increases the risk of developing pregnancy pelvic pain.

Unlike many other forms of lower back pain in pregnancy, a previous high level of fitness does not necessarily prevent posterior pelvic pain while pregnant.