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Is Lower Back Pain Normal In Early Pregnancy

Stretching Of The Uterus

How to manage back pain during early pregnancy? – Dr. Teena S Thomas

During the first weeks of pregnancy, you likely wont notice your uterus growing or expanding. But by the 12th week, your uterus stretches and grows to about the size of a grapefruit. If youre pregnant with twins or multiples, you may feel your uterus stretching sooner.

Symptoms of your uterus stretching may include twinges, aches, or mild discomfort in your uterine or lower abdominal region. This is a normal part of pregnancy and a sign that everything is progressing normally.

Watch for spotting or painful cramping. Report these symptoms to your doctor.

When To See A Doctor

Though most cramping and back pain in early pregnancy is mild and considered a normal symptom, contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the below symptoms.

  • Severe back pain during early pregnancy
  • Any pain that interferes with your activities of daily living
  • Pain with urinating
  • Any back pain that feels rhythmic
  • Any change in vaginal discharge, especially if it appears watery or mucusy
  • Increasingly severe pain or pain that begins abruptly
  • Difficulty urinating or “pins and needles” in your arms and legs
  • A fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Swelling in your hands, fingers, or face
  • Blurred vision or spots before your eyes
  • Severe headaches

Types Of Back Pain In Pregnancy

Pregnant women may experience back pain that is localized to the lower back area or radiates into the buttock, thigh, and legs, causing or mimicking sciatica symptoms. The pain may be constant, get worse with activity, interfere with sleep, and/or reduce overall functioning. While the symptoms usually resolve spontaneously after delivery, some conditions may remain as chronic disorders. Women with pre-existing lower back problems are typically at a higher risk of developing pregnancy-related back pain.

During pregnancy, natural anatomic and postural changes cause mechanical challenges to the musculoskeletal system, especially in the lower body. Back pain and pelvic discomfort commonly start between the fifth and seventh month of being pregnant. A small percentage of women may experience pain as early as 4 to 16 weeks.1

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But What If Exercise Doesnt Help

You can read more about pain in early pregnancy here.

All the evidence around pain management highlights the importance of education and self-management strategies. Exercise can be a great self-management tool. If youd like to learn more about the dos and donts of exercise in pregnancy, you can read this post.

But sometimes, we all need a little extra help.

Our Osteopaths are highly trained in the area of pregnancy-related pain. Well be able to address any other factors that are specific to you

If youve been trying these exercises for a little while, but your pain isnt going anywhere, it may be time to reach out for help.

If youve tried these out, but youre still in pain, our expert Osteopaths are well trained in managing pregnancy related pain. Give us a call on 9372 7714, or book online today for personalised management strategies.


Jennifer Sabino and Grauer, Jonathan N. Pregnancy and Low Back Pain. Curries Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2008 Jun 1: 137 141. Accessed 28/6/19.

P. Katonis et al. Pregnancy-related low back pain.. Hippokratioa 2011, 15, 3: 205-210. Accessed 28/6/19.

But How Does This Pressure Cause Lower Back Pain

When to Worry About Cramping and Lower Back Pain in Early Pregnancy

Your bodys response to the increase in size of the uterus, and the resultant pressure on the intestine and bladder, is to posteriorly rotate your pelvis. Here is one of our favourite videos for explaining exactly what this means:

In a nutshell, this means that the curve in your lower back actually slightly. Due to the anatomy of the bones in this area, this flattening of the curve results in a slight stretch of the tissues in between these bones. If your body struggles to adapt to this stretch, you can develop lower back pain.

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Swelling In The Feet And Legs


Pressure from the growing uterus on the blood vessels carrying blood from the lower body causes fluid retention that results in swelling in the legs and feet.


  • Drink plenty of fluids .
  • Avoid foods high in salt .
  • Elevate your legs and feet while sitting. Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Tight clothing can slow circulation and increase fluid retention.
  • Dont wear tight shoes. Choose supportive shoes with low, wide heels.
  • Keep your diet rich in protein. Too little protein can cause fluid retention.
  • Notify your healthcare provider if your hands or face swell. This might be a warning sign of preeclampsia or toxemia, a pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
  • Rest on your side during the day to help increase blood flow to your kidneys.

Bleeding And Swollen Gums


The increase in your volume of circulation and supply of certain hormones might cause tenderness, swelling and bleeding of your gums.


  • Take proper care of your teeth and gums. Brush and floss regularly.
  • Get a dental checkup early in your pregnancy to make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy. See your dentist if you have a problem.

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Most Back Pain During Pregnancy Is Nothing More Than A Nuisance But Sometimes An Immediate Call To The Doctor Is In Order

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If you have a baby on the way, it’s normal to find yourself wondering when you should worry about back pain. Doctors say at least half of pregnant women will experience it at some point during their pregnancy. The pain, while definitely a source of distress, is usually not a sign of any danger to either you or Baby. But there are some symptoms that are important to get checked out.

First and foremost, you should always have an open line of communication with your doctor. If you’re worried about back pain , don’t be shy about bringing it to their attention. “This is what your OB is there for,” says Mary Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., an OB-GYN at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. “If you have any doubt, give them a call.” At the very least, you might get some tips on how to relieve your painand the reassurance that you’re not suffering alone.

Are you wondering, “When should I worry about back pain in pregnancy?” Read on for several circumstances that warrant a visit to the doctor.

What Do Early Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like

Early Pregnancy Symptoms | 5 Weeks Pregnant | Back & Joint Pain

While some women might be more sensitive to pregnancy cramps, theyre not usually a significant problem.

If youre wondering how many women describe what early pregnancy cramps feel like, however, many claim theyre comparable to mild period pain.

Theyre also often described as small twinges or pulling sensations in the back, sides, or stomach.

And if its round ligament pain, it can be acute and intensefor just a second. That pain can feel sharp or like a muscle pulling.

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Is It Round Ligament Pain

Round ligament pain usually starts in the second trimester, so its unlikely to be the cause of pain in early pregnancy. The round ligaments are located in the pelvis and hold the uterus in place. As your belly grows, they stretch.

With round ligament pain, you may experience what feels like a spasm on the right side of your abdomen or right hip. Some pregnant women do feel round ligament pain on both sides, though.

The pain should only last a few seconds or minutes, though it may return when you laugh or do certain movements like standing or bending down.

If you continue to experience round ligament pain, it may be helpful to try light stretching, prenatal yoga, or prenatal massage. Always check with your doctor before trying these treatments, though.

What Causes Middle Back Pain In Early Pregnancy

It should be noted that the back and abdominal muscles are antagonistic: some balance the effects of others.

In early pregnancy, as the babys fertilized egg grows after implantation, muscles in your abdomen stretch and are forced to hold additional weight.

The muscles in the back are under severe strain as they constantly try to pull backward, pulling forward. However, since the abdominal muscles are relaxed and distended, they cant support the back muscles and your posture will change, causing your mid back pain.

So there is a shift in the center of gravity which, accompanied by bad posture, can lead to mid-back pain. Increased hormone production causes some of this and even leads to abdominal pain, making it difficult to stand, sit or walk properly.

Pain can also spread to other areas of the back due to many muscle contractions. Excessive smoking, as well as anxiety and stress, can be conditions that promote mid-back pain.

Read Also: How To Treat A Pulled Muscle In Your Lower Back

What If I Have Cramps With Bleeding Or Spotting

  • About 20% of women experience some bleeding during the first three months of pregnancy. Light spotting is not usually a cause for concern, but moderate or heavy vaginal bleeding, especially if accompanied by fever, chills, cramping, or pain, are all reasons to call your doctor immediately. Your doctor will want to know what your temperature is when you call.
  • Any pain which is sharp or which is accompanied by bleeding should prompt a call to your doctor.
  • Occasionally, bleeding and mild cramping are normal, but it’s best to be cautious.

Signs And Symptoms Of Back Pain In Pregnancy

Back Pain: is lower back pain a sign of early pregnancy?

For some women, low back pain may be one of the first signs that theyre pregnant. Other women may not experience this pain until later in their pregnancy. While each woman will experience a different level of pain, the most common signs and symptoms of back pain in pregnancy include:

  • Limited motion and stiffness in the back or legs
  • Increased discomfort or pain as the day goes on
  • Increased pain at night that makes it hard to sleep

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How Can I Tell The Difference Between Normal Pain And Worrisome Pain

During pregnancy, you become extraordinarily aware of every twinge, cramp, and kick you may feel. Pregnancy may bring hip and joint issues, abdominal pain and cramping, aching in your lower back, and leg pain. Many of these aches and pains are perfectly normal. However, it’s so hard to know which pain is normal and which is something to worry about.

Upper Back Pain Before Period Is It Normal

Just like lower pain in your back, its possible you could feel pain above your waist level before period. As your period starts, inevitably, these pains will go away.

Also, if youve missed your period for weeks, a low back pain may be due to a miscarriage. Always check out with your doctor if you have vaginal bleeding.

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Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All

  • What if the back pain is not caused by an infection or preterm labor?

    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.

  • Can exercise help with back pain?

    Yes, exercises for the back can:

  • Strengthen and stretch the muscles that support your back and legs

  • Promote good posture

  • So What Can You Do About It

    What are the normal aches and pains of pregnancy?

    The great news is, there are two exercises you can do right now, in the comfort of your own home, that has the potential to help you tremendously.

    The first one is to simply perform the exercise demonstrated in the video above. If youre less than 20 weeks pregnant, its generally safe to lay on your back .

    The second thing you can do, is get your Yoga on, and perform this exercise.

    Another strategy that has been proven to be helpful in pregnant women is to participate in water aerobics. Studies have shown that women who take part in these classes require less sick leave due to lower back pain during their pregnancy than women who do not .

    Finally, you can do some exercises designed to help strengthen you gluteus medium muscle . Were devoting a whole post to this, which is coming soon!

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    Avoiding And Easing Back Pain In Pregnancy

    Try these tips:

    • bend your knees and keep your back straight when you lift or pick something up from the floor
    • avoid lifting heavy objects
    • move your feet when you turn to avoid twisting your spine
    • wear flat shoes to evenly distribute your weight
    • try to balance the weight between 2 bags when carrying shopping
    • keep your back straight and well supported when sitting look for maternity support pillows
    • get enough rest, particularly later in pregnancy
    • have a massage or a warm bath
    • use a mattress that supports you properly you can put a piece of hardboard under a soft mattress to make it firmer, if necessary
    • go to a group or individual back care class

    You can take paracetamol to ease back pain while you are pregnant, unless your GP or midwife says not to. Always follow the instructions on the packet.

    Why You Can Suffer From Lower Back Pain When Youre Only A Few Weeks Pregnant:

    When youre not pregnant, and in the first trimester or so of pregnancy, the uterus is contained within the bones of the pelvis.

    Many women arent exactly sure what this means, so weve included a photo of the bony pelvis for you to get an idea. Can you see the hollow area in the middle of the ring of the pelvic bones? This is where your uterus normally resides when you are not pregnant, or in the first three months or so of pregnancy.

    From the moment of implantation, your uterus will begin to expand in size, ever so slightly each day. Because everything sits quite snugly in this bony ring, this growth will cause displacement of the structures that surround the uterus, meaning that they can in turn start to put pressure on other local structures.

    The two structures that are closest to the uterus are your bowel and your bladder. Pressure on these is the reason behind all of those extra trips to the toilet that you probably werent expecting yet, and is also the reason why some women experience lower back pain from such an early stage in their pregnancy.

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    Consider Acupuncture Of Chiropractic Treatment

    If youre really struggling to stay comfortable during pregnancy, it might be time to call in the professionals.

    Chiropractors and acupuncturists have been known to help treat lower back pain during pregnancy, but make sure you clear these methods of low back pain treatment with your doctor. Never seek these treatments without the prior approval of your healthcare provider.

    How Can You Treat Back Pain During Pregnancy

    Lower Back Pain in Early Pregnancy

    There are a number of things you can do to treat back pain during pregnancy. Some of the steps you take to avoid back pain may also be used to treat current back pain.Here are some other common interventions:

    • Ice or heat
    • Medications used to treat inflammation
    • Sleep on your left side, and use a support pillow under your knees.
    • Schedule an appointment with a licensed health care professional such as a chiropractor or massage therapist.

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    Take A Pain Reliever With Your Doctors Permission

    While we always try to limit medication during pregnancy, there are a few options that may help relieve tailbone pain. This includes topical numbing patches, acetaminophen , or a muscle relaxant such as Flexeril.

    As always, check with your Ob/Gyn before using any over-the-counter or prescribed medications.

    Related reading:Know the risks of taking ibuprofen, NSAIDs during pregnancy

    Thigh Pain In Pregnancy

    Temporary compression, pulling, and/or loss of blood supply to a peripheral nerve may occur in the thigh during pregnancy. The swelling of soft tissues and pressure from the growing uterus may add additional pressure on these nerves.

    Thigh pain may occur under these circumstances when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve gets compressed. This nerve provides sensation to the waist area and the front and side of the thigh.2

    Compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve results in a condition called meralgia paresthetica, which causes one or more of the following symptoms, typically on one side of the body6:

    • Burning or achy pain in the outer side and/or front of the thigh
    • A cold, icy feeling in different parts of the thigh
    • Buzzing or vibrations in the thigh

    Meralgia paresthetica pain increases with activity, such as while standing or walking, and alleviates when sitting.6

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    Is Lower Back Pain Before Period Sign Of Pregnancy Or Period Coming

    Question: Is lower back pain before period sign of pregnancy or PMS?

    At the age of 13, when a lot of girls will start having menstrual period, abdominal pain before or during your monthly period can be disturbing.

    Sometimes, pain may get severe and prevent you from your normal academic or daily activities.

    Ordinarily, before period starts, its common for girls to have both physical and emotional changes in their body.

    Most of these body changes will starts within a week to your next period Nonetheless, some women may get premenstrual symptoms two weeks away from period.

    In young girls, symptoms can cause severe discomfort, especially abdominal cramps. As women grow older, abdomen pain before period will begin to subside.

    Low back pain before period may just be a new symptom you are getting for the first time. If youve had sexual intercourse weeks back and confused if youre having period sign or pregnancy, this guide explains what you must know.

    Low back pain before period is normal and occurs because of hormone changes in your body as you get towards your next period date.

    Pain is usually mild and subsides as your period commences. If you experience severe pain occasionally, it may not be abnormal. However, a persistent and severe back pain may indicate endometriosis, vaginal infections, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

    On the other hand, these symptoms after weeks of unprotected sexual activity will suggest pregnancy.


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