Types Of Back Pain And When They Might Occur During Pregnancy
There are many types of pain, and different people experience pain in different ways and at different times. For example, you might notice sharp jabs when you make certain movements, like getting out of a car or walking up a flight of stairs. Or, you might have muscle cramps or spasms when you sit or sleep in certain positions. Pain can come on suddenly or slowly, and you might feel anything from a sharp pain to a constant dull pressure or a throbbing ache that comes and goes. You might even experience a combination of these sensations. Sometimes it can be tricky to pinpoint the exact site of the pain. For example, you might have trouble distinguishing back pain from soreness in your pelvis or hip.
Ways To Treat Back Pain While Pregnant
Your body undergoes tremendous physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. As a result, pregnancy back pain is a common complaint, especially in the third trimester. If youre looking for ways to treat back pain during pregnancy, try these 10 tips.
How To Relieve Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy
Before we dive into helping lower back pain during pregnancy, let me introduce myself. Hi, Im Hannah! I work in the marketing department at Chirp and YES, I am pregnant! So, you could say that Im a reliable candidate to write this blog .
Heres a little background: Im currently 25 weeks prego and I hear this phrase almost every single day, You dont even look pregnant! And its true. Im hardly popping out, even though Im over halfway to the finish line. Its because my sweet baby boy loves to hang out close to my spine and you can only imagine the lower back pain during pregnancy I am experiencing! Let me share my personal tips and tricks on how to help it:
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Acupuncture Might Ease Back Pain During Pregnancy
THURSDAY, Nov. 24, 2022 — Many women experience back pain during pregnancy and a new study review suggests an ancient treatment can help.
Acupuncture provided significant relief of lower back and pelvic pain, according to an analysis of 10 trials from various parts of the world. The findings were published Nov. 21 in BMJ Open.
“Acupuncture significantly improved pain, functional status, and quality of life in women with during the pregnancy,” wrote the researchers, who included Dr. Wei Dong, from the Department of Orthopaedics at the Kunming Municipal Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China.
“Additionally, acupuncture had no observable severe adverse influences on the newborns,” they said in a journal news release.
The 10 trials were conducted between 2000 and 2020 in the United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain and Brazil. In all, the trials included 1,040 healthy women. On average, they were in their 17th to 30th week of pregnancy.
Each had lower back and/or pelvic pain and were treated by trained acupuncturists, physiotherapists or midwives.
Seven of the 10 trials described body acupuncture. The other three described ear lobe acupuncture.
The findings varied but trial results for nine studies suggested that acupuncture significantly relieved pain during pregnancy.
Four studies reported on the potential of acupuncture to restore physical function, showing significant improvements.
SOURCE: BMJ Open, news release, Nov. 21, 2022
Exercise The Pain Away
Staying mobile can really help with back pain as it keeps your muscles from getting too tight, says Cynthia Rebong, a midwife at Midwifery Care North Don River Valley and a yoga and Pilates instructor. Some forms of phsycial activity can become uncomfortable during pregnancy, but Rebong recommends swimming as a pregnancy-friendly way to keep moving.
Can a maternity belt solve your pregnancy pains? Mickeler suggests focusing on your glutes when you exercise. We have this anterior shift in the pelvis, and now were tucking our butt under, so our butts getting really tight, and super, super weak, she explains. And weak glutes can wreak havoc with your lower back because they force other muscles, like your hip flexors, to do the work for them. Mickeler says exercises like squats, lunges, glute kickbacks or bridges can all help support your posture by strengthening not only your glutes but your back, hamstrings and calves, which will help prevent back pain.
If you already have low-back pain, manual osteopathic practitioner Riki Richter, co-owner of Synergy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Toronto, recommends doing squats against a wall, which will give you support at the same time as minimizing that lower back bend. She also suggests cat pose, which will help keep that low-back area flexible. And if you have pain around the dimples in your low back, butt, hips or pubic bone, choose fitness classes that dont involve forward bending, as that can be painful, says Mickeler.
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Path To Improved Well Being
There are several causes of back pain during pregnancy. These are due to changes that occur in your body.
Pressure on back musclesAs your baby grows, your uterus expands and becomes heavier. This puts added weight on your back muscles. You may find yourself leaning backward or arching your low back. The pressure can lead to back pain or stiffness.
Weakness in stomach musclesYour growing baby also puts pressure on your stomach muscles. This can cause them to stretch and weaken. Your stomach and back muscles are connected. Your back muscles have to work harder to offset your belly.
PosturePregnancy can alter your center of gravity. The way you move, sit, and stand can cause pain to your back and other parts of your body. A compressed nerve due to poor posture also can cause pain.
Pregnancy hormonesMany hormones change when you are pregnant for different reasons. Later in your pregnancy, hormones increase to relax the muscles and ligaments in your pelvis. This prepares your body for labor. If your muscles and ligaments become too loose, it can lead to back pain.
StressAnxiety and built-up tension can make your back muscles tight or stiff.
To help prevent back pain, be mindful of how you sit, stand, sleep, and move.
If you have back pain, these tips can help relieve soreness and stiffness.
Strengthening Exercises For Back Pain During Pregnancy
The strengthening poses can be held for 3 to 10 seconds and repeated 10 to 30 times. Breathe out during the exertion phase of the exercise and inhale as you relax. The following are suggested exercises for each of the major muscle groups mentioned:
- Pelvic Tilts : The simplest way to learn the pelvic tilt is to lie on the back with knees bent, feet resting on the floor. Place your hand in the small of your back, and you will most likely notice a space between your back and the floor. Now try to flatten the lower part of the spine against the floor, so that you feel no space between your back and the floor. The buttocks should be relaxed in order to isolate the abdominals. The pelvic tilt can be performed while lying on your back, standing, on your hands and knees, or sitting.
- Arm and Leg Raises : Kneel on your hands and knees with a straight spine. Do a pelvic tilt to keep your pelvis stable and then lift your right arm and left leg to form a straight line with your spine. Pause in this position and then slowly lower your arm and leg. Alternate lifting the opposite arm and leg. If you have difficulty keeping your balance in this position, modify the exercise by performing only the leg or arm raises separately.
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Causes Of Back Pain In Pregnancy
There are several physiologic changes that occur in a pregnant body that can explain the increased chance of developing back pain. The most notable is the weight gain that occurs during pregnancy which is typically 25-35 pounds, with at least half of that weight gain occurring in the abdominal region. The weight change also shifts the posture of the spine and changes your body’s center of gravity.
The second major change that occurs is hormonal. These hormone levels that are raised increase the laxity of joints and ligaments in the body. One of these important hormones, called relaxin, has been shown to correlate with symptoms of back pain. Studies have found that women with the highest levels of relaxin often have the most significant back pain.
Physical Therapy And Exercise
Your healthcare provider or a physical therapist can recommend exercises to strengthen your low back and reduce pain. Regular exercise can strengthen the muscles of your low back, boost flexibility, and reduce the stress on the spine.
Safe exercises during pregnancy include walking, swimming, cycling, and low-impact aerobic exercises .
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Who Is Most Likely To Have Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy
You’re at higher risk for lower back pain if:
- You’ve had this kind of pain before, either before you got pregnant or during a previous pregnancy
- You have a sedentary lifestyle
- You are not very flexible
- You have weak back and weak abdominal muscles
- You are carrying twins
- You have a high BMI
- You’ve had spinal fusion in the past for adolescent scoliosis
What Is Posterior Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy
Posterior pelvic pain is felt in the back of your pelvis. It’s the most common type of lower back pain during pregnancy, though some women have lumbar pain as well.
You may feel posterior pelvic pain as deep pain on one or both sides of your buttocks or at the back of your thighs. It may be triggered by walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of the tub or a low chair, rolling over in bed, or twisting and lifting.
Certain positions may make posterior pelvic pain worse – for example, when you’re sitting in a chair and leaning forward at a desk or otherwise bent at the waist. Women with posterior pelvic pain are also more likely to have pain over their pubic bone.
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What Causes Back Pain During Pregnancy
Back pain during pregnancy is related to a number of factors. Some women begin to have lower back pain with the onset of pregnancy. Women who are most at risk for back pain are those who are overweight or had back pain prior to pregnancy.Here is a list of potential causes of back pain or discomfort during pregnancy:
- Increase of hormones Hormones released during pregnancy allow ligaments in the pelvic area to soften and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birthing process this shift in joints and loosening of ligaments may affect the support your back normally experiences.
- Center of gravity Your center of gravity will gradually move forward as your uterus and baby grow, which causes your posture to change.
- Additional weight Your developing pregnancy and baby create an additional weight that your back must support.
- Posture or position Poor posture, excessive standing, and bending over can trigger or escalate the pain you experience in your back.
- Stress Stress usually accumulates in weak areas in the body, and because of the changes in your pelvic area, you may experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.
How Can Back Pain During Pregnancy Be Treated
Back pain is very common in pregnancy and is usually not serious. While it may not be completely preventable, there are some changes you can make to reduce the severity or frequency of your back pain. Some treatments for back pain include:
While these treatments can help reduce symptoms of back pain, some small changes in your habits can also help prevent triggering or worsening back pain. Some changes are:
- If you need to pick something up from the ground, squat down instead of bending over.
- Avoid wearing high heels or other shoes that do not provide adequate support.
- Avoid sleeping on your back.
- Elevate your feet often, especially when sitting for a prolonged period of time.
- Wear a support belt or support hose, if needed.
Unless you experienced chronic back pain prior to pregnancy, your pain will most likely ease gradually before you give birth.
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Reasons For Back Pain In Pregnancy
Back pain can occur during any trimester, though it frequently arises in later months as the babyand your bellygrows. The pain can be mild or severe, and it often occurs in the lower back. Some women have greater odds going into pregnancy, such as women who are overweight and those who already have back problems.
You dont have to have pre-existing back problems, however. Pregnancy itself changes your body in ways that can lead to back pain. For example, as your uterus becomes heavier, extra strain is placed on your back muscles, which can alter your posture and cause discomfort.
Pregnancy changes your center of gravity and accentuates the curve in the lower back, Dr. Meyer explains. Weak abdominal muscles and core strength will make the back curvature changes worse, since these muscles stabilize your back. This, in turn, can cause pain.
But thats not all. When youre pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin that loosens ligamentsthe tissue that connects bones to each otherin your pelvis. This loosening can affect back support and contribute to pain.
Other reasons women experience back pain during pregnancy includebut are not limited tostress, poor posture, too much standing, injury and trauma.
Think About Your Posture
When youre standing up, keep your head up and your shoulders back as much as you can.
When sitting on a chair, try to keep:
- your hips level with or slightly higher than your knees
- your bottom at the back of the chair
- your back supported by the chair
- your feet resting flat on the floor.
If you work in an office, the top of your computer screen should be set up just below eye level. Your keyboard should be at a comfortable height so your forearms are flat. Try to get up regularly so you dont get stiff.
Try not to slump when youre sitting on the sofa. Use cushions to support your back and have your feet resting on the floor. It may help to lie on your side if you are watching TV or relaxing.
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Tips For Good Posture
Using good posture means holding yourself so that your spine is aligned and your muscles can work without strain. To use good posture:
Raise your chest and head. Try to keep your ears lined up over your shoulders.
Use your stomach muscles to pull in your stomach. This reduces the amount of weight your back must support.
Keep your pelvis level. Think of your pelvis as a bowl of water that will spill if it tips too far forward or backward.
An Ounce Of Back Pain Prevention
If you already have back pain problems, pregnancy is likely to make them worse. So if pregnancy is in your near future, nows the time to plan, Dr. Stephens says.
Before you ditch birth control, consider taking up exercisesdesigned to strengthen your core, she says. And women who are overweight are athigher risk of back pain in pregnancy, so talk to your doctor about aweight-loss plan before trying to conceive. If youre already expecting, save theseprevention tips for your next pregnancy and keep reading for ways to getrelief this time around.
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Ergonomically Supported Sleep Positions Reduce Mechanical Strain In The Lower Back
A side-sleeping posture with the use of appropriate supportive pillows is recommended in pregnancy.
- Using a pillow between the knees and ankles while sleeping brings the top of the knee at the same level as the hip, reducing strain on the lower back.1
- Placing a vertical pillow near the abdomen and upper body can help support the top arm and chest area.1
The head and neck may be supported by a small rolled-up towel placed under the neck inside the pillowcase.
When To Seek Treatment From A Doctor
Back pain, by itself, usually is not a reason to call your doctor. But you should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:
- Increasingly severe pain or pain that begins abruptly
- Rhythmic cramping pains
Difficulty urinating or âpins and needlesâ in your extremities
In rare cases, severe back pain may be related to problems such as pregnancy-associated osteoporosis, vertebral osteoarthritis, or . Rhythmic pains may be a sign of preterm labor. So if you are experiencing any of these problems, it’s important to be checked by your doctor.
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