Tips On How To Deal With Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy
When youre pregnant, the chance of you having to deal with lower back pain are up to an estimated 50%. That is about the percentage of women in the US that have a significant backache during their pregnancy at least once.
Even when the pain in your lumbar region only lasts for a day or two one of the problems women face is that doctors usually only recommend paracetamol as a pain relief medication.
Here are seven ways you should consider when you are suffering from lower back pain during pregnancy:
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.
Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
Once other causes for your pain are ruled out, your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider may recommend that you see a rehabilitation specialist or a physical therapist. He or she also may recommend a maternity girdle or brace if you arent already using one.
Yes, exercises for the back can:
Strengthen and stretch the muscles that support your back and legs
Promote good posture
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Causes Of Back Pain During Pregnancy
As many as 80 percent of moms-to-be experience back pain at some point during their pregnancy, and the causes can vary. The main culprit is often strain on the muscles of your back caused by pregnancy weight gain and by changes in your posture due to your growing belly. As your pregnancy progresses, there is more weight on the front of your body, making you bend slightly forward. To keep you balanced, your posture changes, and you might overcorrect and lean back a little too far. The extra strain can make your back feel stiff and sore.
Weak abdominal muscles can also cause back pain. As your baby grows, your tummy muscles can stretch and weaken. These muscles play an important role in supporting your spine, so as they weaken, your back can start to hurt.
Some pregnancy hormones can also play a role. Hormones that are meant to relax the ligaments and joints of your pelvis to help your baby pass through the birth canal more easily can also loosen the joints of your back, which can cause them to overextend, leading to soreness.
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.
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Postural Correction Helps Relieve Pregnancy Back Pain
Maintaining an ergonomically supported posture throughout the day can help take a considerable amount of stress and strain off the lower back tissues. Doctors also advise taking rest, limiting strain and high impact activities, and performing stretches and exercises to build strength in the pelvis, hip, and lower back. Pain-relieving medications such as NSAIDs are not considered safe during pregnancy and must be avoided.
What Should I Know About Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy
Lower back pain is a pain literally. And for those with a bun in the oven, it can be even worse. Between the nausea, fluctuating hormones, and restless legs, pain in the lower back is the icing on top of a debilitating pregnancy.
Although it can vary from person to person, symptoms may include:
- Stiffness It might be difficult to move or straighten your back. You may find that getting up from a seated position takes a while, and you may feel like you constantly need to stretch or take a stroll to loosen up.
- Dull, aching pain Tenderness that remains within the low back region is usually described as dull, sore, and aching. It may also be tender to the touch.
- Radiating pain Sometimes, lower back pain includes a sharp, stinging, tingling, or numb sensation that isnt localized but moves into the pelvic area, buttocks, and legs. It may mimic sciatica pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, stretching from the lower back area through the hips and buttocks down the leg or foot.
This uncomfortable pregnancy symptom can be constant or made worse with activity. It might interfere with sleep and greatly affect a pregnant womans quality of life. Fortunately for most moms-to-be, symptoms will resolve after the birth of their little one.
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Avoiding Backache In Pregnancy
There are several things you can do to help prevent backache from happening, and to help you cope with an aching back if it does occur.
It is important to avoid lifting heavy objects. When lifting or picking up something from the floor, be sure to bend your knees and keep your back straight.
These tips listed here can also help you to protect your back try to remember them every day:
- move your feet when turning around to avoid twisting your spine
- wear flat shoes as these allow your weight to be evenly distributed
- work at a surface high enough to prevent you stooping
- try to balance the weight between two bags when carrying shopping
- sit with your back straight and well supported
- avoid standing or sitting for long periods
- make sure you get enough rest, particularly later in pregnancy
- try to have good posture
A firm mattress can also help to prevent and relieve backache. If your mattress is too soft, put a piece of hardboard under it to make it firmer.
Some other activities that may help ease your back pain include:
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.
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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.
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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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. Pregnant people should first consult with their doctor to make sure prenatal massage is safe for them and then make sure to work with a prenatal massage therapist who is certified. To be comfortable on the massage table, a side-lying position is usually best.
Does Backache Mean Miscarriage
Back pain can occur in both early and late miscarriage. It is possible to experience back pain throughout pregnancy without it relating to a miscarriage, as it is a normal side-effect of carrying a growing fetus in the womb. However, intense pain in the lower back is commonly a feature of late miscarriage.
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Is Prenatal Yoga Effective Against Pregnancy Back Pain
Yes, mindful breathing exercises may help tackle the physical pain in pregnancy. It does not only help moms improve their posture but also tone the mind and body.
It is an essential process to prepare moms for the whole ordeal of birthing the baby. If you want to try yoga, look for programs with instructors specifically trained in prenatal yoga.
Treatment For Early Back Pain During Pregnancy
No matter what stage of your pregnancy youre in, there are ways to treat back pain. You probably wont be able to prevent it completely, but you can help to minimize the pain.
Follow these tips for reducing back pain throughout your pregnancy.
If your back pain seems to be linked to your stress levels, things like meditation, prenatal yoga, and extra rest can all be helpful ways to manage your stress levels.
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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.
Strap On A Maternity Belt
If you have pelvic girdle pain around your middle lower back and hips, a maternity belt may relieve your pain. This support garment does the work of the ligaments, muscles and fascia of the girdle area, explains Richter. But, she cautions, it should not be worn all of the time, because those muscles will stop working and will need to be retrained after you have your baby. I usually recommend that clients wear them during more taxing activitiessuch as activities with lots of bending, lifting, walking or standingjust so theyre not in discomfort, she explains. And then I give them exercises to try and resolve the issue.
Mickeler warns against wearing the belts too tightly, which can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse. Because of this, its best to have a practitioner guide you on how to use one.
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What Are Some Causes Of Back Pain During Pregnancy
Pain in the lower back region usually starts in the second trimester, but its possible to experience this type of pain as early as the first trimester. In fact, having backache is sometimes an early sign of pregnancy especially when cramps accompany it.
So, what causes lower back pain and back problems during pregnancy? Here are some of the most likely culprits:
Safety Tips For Exercising While Pregnant:
- After your first trimester, avoid exercising while lying flat on your back.
- This position causes the uterus to put pressure on a major vein called the inferior vena cava, which pumps blood back to your heart. Impeding this blood flow can make you dizzy, short of breath or nauseated.
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Book A Physical Therapy Appointment
Physical therapists, in addition to treating acute injuries, can help pregnant people work through back pain by manipulating joints, muscles, and nerve pressure points and providing exercises that expectant parents 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 Olderman does is place tape on the backs of pregnant people’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 pregnant people’s joints become lax as a result of hormonal changes, Olderman also helps show them the importance of limiting their joints’ ranges of motion to about 75%. “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.