How Common Is Back Pain During Pregnancy
Back pain is incredibly common during pregnancy, in fact, it affects more than two-thirds of pregnant women and is experienced in varying degrees of severity by most expectant women.
Though most women experience some level of general discomfort during pregnancy, 50 to 70 percent of women specifically report struggling with back pain during pregnancy.
Get A Prenatal Massage
A certified prenatal massage therapist can bring quick relief when back pain is acute, especially when it’s the result of muscular clenching that irritates nerves and sends pain signals to the brain. Research has shown that in addition to relieving pain, regular prenatal massage can help alleviate depression and anxiety in pregnancy.
Swedish massage is the most common and advisable method of prenatal massage because it is gentle and soothing, and it uses long, smooth strokes that won’t aggravate the joints or push fluid through the body in an unhealthy way. Women should first consult with their doctors to make sure prenatal massage is safe and then make sure the prenatal massage therapist is certified. To be comfortable on the massage table, a side-lying position is usually best.
Treatments For Back Pain In Pregnancy
More good news: Unless you had chronic backaches before you got pregnant, your pain will likely ease gradually before you give birth.
Meanwhile, there are many things you can do to treat low back pain or make it rarer and milder:
- If you need to pick something up from the ground, use your legs to squat rather than bend over.
- Don’t wear high-heeled shoes. Choose low-heeled shoes with good arch support. Remember, as hormones loosen joints, you may need to buy a larger shoe size.
- Don’t sleep on your back.
- Wear support hose.
If your back pain persists, you may want to consult your doctor to see what else you might try. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking pain medications. Acetaminophen is safe for most women to take during pregnancy. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen are not advised. In some cases, your doctor may recommend other pain medicines or muscle relaxants that are safe during pregnancy.
Third Trimester Back Pain
Your third trimester is when lower back pain may be the worst. Your belly is heavier, putting considerably more stress on your back and your center of gravity shifts to the front of your body as baby grows and you will find yourself leaning backwards for relief. However, by continuing to lean backwards, you are adding strain on your lower back. Your body is preparing for labor and your joints are loosening, resulting in subtle posture shifts that can have a big effect.
You may also be more sedentary due to fatigue, and as your baby gets larger and runs out of room to move in your womb, it will put direct pressure on your abdominal muscles that help stabilize the spine and support the back depending on their positioning.
Loose Pelvic Ligaments In Pregnancy
Another common contributor to lower back pain during pregnancy is a loosening of ligaments, especially in the pelvic area. During pregnancy, a woman produces relaxin, a hormone that causes ligaments to loosen and relax. Relaxin aids the birth processallowing the pelvis to stretch and accommodate the passage of a baby but during pregnancy relaxin can contribute to discomfort and pain in the pelvis and lower back.
I remember pain in my pubic bone and my sacroiiliac joints on either side of the sacrum, in the upper glutes worsening as my pelvic ligaments loosened and my pregnancy progressed. It felt like my joints were slipping out of place during daily movements like kicking off my shoes.
Looser ligaments can worsen pre-existing postural problems, such as exaggerated lordosis, as well. The loosening of pelvic ligaments leads to instability, and this is also a root cause of low back pain, says Micheline.
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When Does Back Pain During Pregnancy Start And End
Unfortunately, back pain can start fairly early on in your pregnancy. Some women experience it in the first trimester, but for many women, back pains starts up around week 18, early in the second trimester. It can persist or sometimes worsen as the second trimester progresses and especially in the third trimester, up until you give birth .
Suggestions For Maintaining Ones Back Healthy And Balanced
Workout on a regular basis to maintain muscle mass solid and versatile. Consult a doctor for a checklist of low-impact, age-appropriate workouts that are particularly targeted to strengthening lower back and also stomach muscles.
Maintain a healthy and balanced weight and eat a healthy diet regimen with a sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, as well as vitamin D to promote brand-new bone growth.
Use ergonomically developed furniture and also tools in the house and also at the office. Make sure work surface areas go to a comfortable height.
Change sitting settings usually as well as occasionally walk the workplace or delicately stretch muscles to alleviate stress. A cushion or rolled-up towel positioned behind the small of the back can give some lumbar support. Put your feet on a low stool or a stack of publications when sitting for a long time.
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Apply Ice Not Heat For Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy
I know there are differing theories about whether to use ice or heat for back pain.
When it comes to lower back pain, I find that ice works better.
Inflammation of spinal joints is nearly always at the core of back pain, not pulled muscles.
Ice will decrease this inflammation while heat will make it worse.
Reducing inflammation can also help improve spinal movement which is necessary for the healing process.
Do not ice sore or stiff muscles, though. The cold will make them contract and possibly hurt more. Place the ice directly on the spine through a thin cloth.
What Are Some Causes Of Back Pain During Pregnancy
There are several reasons why you may experience back pain during pregnancy. Sone of the most common causes include:
- Weight gain: As you gain weight during pregnancy, the spine has to support that added weight. That change causes lower back pain. The weight of the growing baby and uterus can also put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back, causing pain.
- Changes in hormones: During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and joints to loosen in preparation for giving birth. The hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen as well. This, along with the shifting of joints, can lead to instability and pain.
- Changes in posture: Poor posture, excessive standing or sitting, and bending over can trigger or increase your back pain. In addition, while youre pregnant, your center of gravity shifts forward as your uterus and baby grow, causing your posture and the way you move to change. This can result in strain and pain.
- Stress: Stress can cause muscle tension in the back, resulting in back pain or back spasms. You may experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.
- Chronic back pain prior to pregnancy.
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Heat And Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapies can also help you improve lower back pain during pregnancy. It is even highly effective to reduce upper back pain.
In the beginning, it is suggested to put ice on your back to reduce inflammation and swelling. Cold therapy helps relieve back pain by limiting nerve activity. You can either use a bag of ice or an icy cool towel to put on your affected area. If you feel uncomfortable, use a towel to cover the ice bag.
Put ice on your lower back for 10 minutes and after two days with ice therapy, switch to heat treatment.
Stiff muscles or muscle tension can be easily relieved with heat therapy. It is best to use a hot water bag on your lower back, but you can also use low-heating pads. If you are having back pain in the first trimester, avoid using heat pads or limit their usage.
Also, a warm bath gives you a better feeling at night. But, make sure not to hurt your baby with too much hot water.
Book A Physical Therapy Appointment
Physical therapists, in addition to treating acute injuries, help pregnant women work through back pain by manipulating joints, muscles, and nerve pressure points and providing exercises that expectant moms can continue at home. Rick Olderman, M.S.P.T., a Denver-based physical therapist and the author of Fixing You: Back Pain During Pregnancy, says that one of his goals is to educate patients by “teaching them how to walk, sit, stand, bend forward, lie down, and exercise” in a healthy, back-supporting way.
One thing he does is placing tape on the backs of pregnant women’s knees to “remind them to unlock their knees,” a habit that can put pressure on the large muscles of the legs and hip joints and the back, he says. Because women’s joints become lax as a result of hormonal changes, Olderman also helps show women the importance of limiting their joints’ ranges of motion to about 75 percent. “It may feel good to stretch, but the tissue stress becomes greater,” he says, and can actually exacerbate pain. Some health insurance plans cover physical therapy, which is not always the case with other complementary therapies.
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Risk Of Bias Assessment
The reviewers’ consensus assessment of the risk is detailed in Figure 2. The overall risk of bias across the studies was moderate. Most studies adequately stated the methods used for randomization and allocation concealment barring 4 RCTs . Blinding of participants and personnel was considered unclear in most studies barring low risk in only one study and high risk in 3 other studies . The blinding of outcome assessors was judged unclear risk in 17 studies and low risk in 12 studies . All trials barring one study were judged at low or unclear risk of attrition bias and selective reporting. Most studies were determined to be at unclear risk of other bias mainly due to lack of adequate details regarding blinding or outcome assessment. Finally, the overall bias was adjudged as low in 15 studies and as unclear in the remaining 14 studies.
Risk of bias summary for included RCTs.
What Are Some Symptoms Of Back Pain During Pregnancy
The symptoms of back pain during pregnancy are very similar to the symptoms of back pain prior to pregnancy. Some of the symptoms include:
- Pain in the center of your back
- Pain above or at the sides of the waistline
- Pain over the pubic bone
- Pain in the buttocks or thighs
- Pain that can radiate to the legs
- Stiffness or discomfort after sitting or standing for long period of time
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How Can I Avoid And Reduce Back Pain
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Change positions and move frequently.
- Avoid bending arching, and twisting motions, you will feel less discomfort.
- When lifting heavy things, keep your back straight and use your leg muscles instead of your back when picking things up.
- Whenever you are sitting, put your feet up on a stool or box so your hips tilt forward and the curve in your lower back flattens out.
- Many women get pain relief from using moist heat or cold packs, getting a massage, or sitting in a warm bath.
- Some women find wearing supportive, low-heeled shoes or an abdominal support binder can also help. Gentle exercise, along with walking 20 minute most days, can relieve or lessen back pain. Exercise helps strengthen the back muscles, decrease muscle tightness and spasm, and keep the joints in good position.
- Sleeping on your side with a body pillow in your arms and between your knees may help as well.
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Practice Relaxation Techniques And Sleep Right
Meditation, guided imagery, or deep breathing can help you relax and may help relieve your low back pain during pregnancy.
Sleeping in the right position can be helpful too! Try to sleep on your side with your knees bent.
Many pregnant women benefit from the use of a pregnancy pillow and find they get tremendous relief of their low back pain
symptoms. There are many types of pregnancy pillows and many manufacturers.
Pregnancy pillows help low back pain primarily by offering support to the head, neck, spine, hips and lower extremities.
Initially, you will very likely experience immediate improvement in sleep comfort.
However, what is most remarkable is the improvement you will notice in your low back pain over time.
The pregnancy pillow is therapeutic because it offers consistent support and alignment of your lower back.
As with any physical therapy, it will take consistent use of the pillow to experience prolonged improvement in low back pain during pregnancy.
The following standard full-body pregnancy pillows are among the most popular for sleep comfort and relief of low back and pelvic pain.
There are many other pregnancy pillow variations available to address specific needs.
Two examples are the knee pillow which is intended to help alleviate sciatic pain and the wedge pillow, which helps support the abdomen in a comfortable anatomic position.
The smaller pillows are also far more practical for those who travel and cannot carry a full-body pregnancy pillow with them.
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Strengths And Limitations Of This Systematic Review
This systematic review employed a comprehensive search strategy covering all aspects in the management of LBP in pregnancy with evidence-based recommendations. However, due to the absence of high-level evidence in all areas, a significant proportion of evidence came from cohort studies, case series and case reports, and this increases the possibility of bias. The RCTs included in this review were of moderate quality and included several single blind studies that may influence the outcomes, particularly in interventional studies. Evidence regarding the use of neuraxial analgesia and anaesthesia is largely from non-pregnant patients. Unique anatomical and physiological changes of pregnancy suggest that inferences based on studies on non-pregnant patients may have limited applicability in pregnancy.
So Should I Just Put Up With It Or Can I Actually Do Something About It
You can definitely do something to help this!
So many pregnant women think that they have to put up with this because its to be expected during pregnancy no!
Whilst it may be common, that doesnt mean it cant be treated.
Besides, if you had a choice, I dont know a woman that wouldnt want to rid herself of pain.
Lets work together to keep you mobile and strong in your third trimester and then give you the energy, strength and mobility to power on through labour and birth!
To improve pelvic pain you should
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Frequency And When It Presents
Research shows that around 50% of people who are pregnant will experience low back pain during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. Low back pain during pregnancy can be mild or associated with specific activities. For some people, it can be chronicthat is, pain is persistent and lasts more than three months.
One-third of pregnant people will suffer from severe low back pain that reduces their quality of life, while 10% report that low back pain affects their daily routine and ability to work. For most people, low back pain starts between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy, but for some, low back pain may occur earlier.
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.
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When To Get Help
Talk to your GP or midwife if your back is very painful and affecting your quality of life. You may be referred to a physiotherapist.
Contact your GP urgently if you have back pain and you:
- lose feeling in one or both of your legs, your bum or your genitals
- cannot control the need to pee or poo
- feel the pain is intense at the start of the second or third trimester – this could be a sign of early labour
- have a fever, bleeding from your vagina or pain when you pee
- have pain under your ribs, on one or both sides
- suddenly need to pee very frequently
Symptoms Of Back Labor Vs Back Pain Or Typical Labor
If youre wondering what it feels like when your babys sunny-side up or how you can tell the difference between back labor and plain ole pregnancy back pain, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
- Back labor will set in when youre actively in labor. Dont worry that the aches and pains that you may be feeling in your back are a sure sign of back labor theyre not. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ticks them off as regular back pain that comes from strain on your back muscles, weak abdominal muscles, and pregnancy hormones.
- Heres where it can get confusing: Regular contractions come and go, giving you time to catch your breath between contractions. But back labor may not give you that rest. You may feel a constant pain in your lower back that becomes especially intense at the height of a contraction.
- If you go into labor preterm you probably wont have back labor. Some experts says that back labor is more likely if youve passed week 40.
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