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What Can You Take For Back Pain While Pregnant

Wont Electrical Stimulation Induce Contractions

5 Best Pregnancy Lower Back Pain Relief Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo

If you are careful about where you put the sticky electrode pads, you will not induce contractions.

You might hear the same precautions and areas to avoid regarding massages during pregnancy.

Areas to avoid

The body has trigger points, so you must avoid using the electrodes on some body areas.

There are a couple of areas of the feet and ankles to avoid because those spots may induce contractions.

Also, avoid using the TENS unit on your handâs webbing between the thumb and your pointer finger.

In some cases, you may wish to avoid shoulder areas, too. We know that is the best place to relieve tension, but you may find there are pressure points on the shoulders that impact the pelvic floor, which is hard at work during pregnancy.

If at any time you notice uterine contractions, shut the TENS unit off right away.

Safe Pain Meds For Lactation

A research conducted by the US National Library of Medicine shows that only a small fraction of drugs ever make it to the baby through the breast milk. However, there is still a lot of controversy on the level of evidence. Scientists believe that more research is needed to determine which drugs are safe, and in what quantities. This information should be kept in mind when mothers attempt to buy pain meds overnight when the pain is too severe only purchase drugs with a prior prescription. Its better to call an emergency service in a situation like this.

Here is a list of safe painkillers while breastfeeding:

  • Acetaminophen. This is safe when used on a short term basis.
  • Ibuprofen. This is only safe when the mother doesnt have any stomach ulcers.
  • Naproxen. this should also only be taken on a short term basis.

Note that its required to consult a doctor before taking any pain medications mentioned above as one that is safe to one woman might cause harm to another pregnant woman.

What Causes Severe Back Pain During Pregnancy 5 Causes

Hormone Changes

During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin. This hormone is a very important hormone in pregnancy because it allows the ligaments in the joints of the pelvic area to relax and prepares your body for the whole birthing process.

The downside is that this same hormone can also cause the ligaments which support the spine to loosen and create instability, causing you severe back pain.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is a given in pregnancy. Women typically gain about 25 35 pounds, which is completely normal in a healthy pregnancy.

The side-effect of weight gain is that the spine has to make some serious adjustments in order to support the weight of your growing baby.

The baby and uterus also put added pressure on the nerves and blood vessels around the back and pelvis area, which can cause severe back pain.

Center of Gravity Changes

Your body is starting to gain weight which causes a change in your center of gravity.

As your baby grows, your center of gravity will start shifting forward . This puts a lot of strain on your back as you try to overcompensate your muscles to stay balanced.


So many things change in your body during pregnancy which can lead to emotional stress. Its been proven that our emotions can affect us physically too.

This can cause unnecessary tension in the back to where you may experience muscle spasms and back pain.

Muscle Separation AKA Diastasis Recti

As your uterus expands so does your rectal abdominal muscles.

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Taking Rest And Applying Heat Therapy Can Help Heal Sore Tissues

Taking short periods of rest during the day helps ease muscle spasms and relieves acute pain. While taking rest, keeping both feet elevated can help bend the hips and decrease the curvature in the lower spine.2

Using a heat patch in the lower back area and/or rear pelvis can help reduce soreness, decrease muscle spasm, and improve blood circulation. The heat source must be used for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and be of a tolerable temperature. Placing a barrier, such as a towel, is advisable to avoid burns.

Watch:Video: 3 Easy Exercises for Back Pain in Pregnancy

Maintaining an optimal level of function throughout your pregnancy and having the least amount of discomfort are the main goals of treatment for back pain during pregnancy.

Physical therapy encompasses postural modifications, back strengthening, stretching, and range-of-motion exercises. Appropriate physical therapy and exercise for pregnant women instructed by a trained therapist can help strengthen the soft tissues and muscles around the lumbar spine .2

  • Flexion exercises help make the abdominal muscles stronger, improve core strength, and decrease the lumbar curve.2
  • Extension exercises help increase strength in the paraspinal muscles that provide stability to the spine.2

Physical therapy and exercise to reduce back pain in pregnancy include low-impact options, such as pelvic tilts, knee-to-chest stretch, straight leg raise, curl-ups, side-lying leg raise, and the Kegel exercises.2

Exercise The Pain Away

How To Deal With Back Pain During Pregnancy

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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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.

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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Other Remedies For Sciatic Nerve Pain

A gentle massage over the lower section of your back can do a lot to help relieve inflammation and discomfort around your sciatic nerve. Its best to go to a professional masseuse, whos experienced in pregnancy-specific massages. A lot of spas even offer special mom-to-be massages to help relieve all of the aches and pains that come with pregnancy, while also making sure you and baby are safe.

You can also use a tennis ball to give yourself a massage at home. If youre early on in your pregnancy, you can lay on your back with the tennis ball under your lower back to roll out the tension. As your pregnancy progresses, we recommend you do this while sitting against the back of a chair.

Make sure you avoid sitting for long periodsif you have a desk job get up and take a walk regularly. Its also a good idea to use heat packs on your lower back or buttocks while youre sitting, to help keep tension from forming in those muscles. Being mindful of your posture while sitting will also help reduce irritation around your sciatic nerve. Taking a warm bath, using over-the-counter pain relievers, or using a foam roller on your buttocks and lower legs are all great ways to ease the pain.

Issues Of Using Pain Medications While Pregnancy

Relieving Back Pain During Pregnancy

The side effects of pain medication use are numerous, and these cut across most of the bodily functions. The hormonal changes that occur in the body during pregnancy affect how the body interacts with the drugs and the responses that women get. Some of the side effects of using pain medication while pregnant are quite common:

  • Liver Damage
  • Gastrointestinal Ulcers

Other side effects are specific to the kind of painkillers taken. With Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Diclofenac and Naproxen, the biggest risk to the mother in pregnancy is a miscarriage. This is why they are only prescribed if the effects of the drug outweigh the risk of losing the baby.

Compound painkillers may also have multiple side effects in pregnant women. They are pain meds that have more than one active compound. For example, co-codamol is a combination of codeine and paracetamol, and its prescribed for more severe conditions. But, while paracetamol is safe for pregnancy, codeine and codeine-containing medications are not. According to research about the effects of codeine on pregnancy outcome, codeine can cause:

  • Neonatal withdrawal syndrome
  • Increased risk of the mother needing a c-section

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What Otc Pain Relief Medications Are Not Safe During Pregnancy

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are popular medications for pain relief and inflammation. OTC NSAIDs include medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen , and naproxen . But your healthcare provider may not recommend NSAIDs during pregnancy.

Were not exactly sure how safe NSAIDS are in early pregnancy. NSAIDs taken before 20 weeks of pregnancy have a potential risk of miscarriage and birth defects. So to play it safe, its probably best to avoid them.

And in 2020, the FDA warned that using NSAIDs around 20 weeks or later in pregnancy may cause serious kidney problems in an unborn baby. They also warned that they can lead to low amounts of amniotic fluid, which is the liquid that surrounds a baby in the womb. Plus, using NSAIDs like ibuprofen during the later stages of pregnancy may also cause certain heart and lung problems.

If using an NSAID is necessary, try to limit it to the lowest effective dose and for the shortest amount of time possible. The FDA suggests an ultrasound to monitor for side effects if a pregnant woman uses an NSAID for more than 48 hours.

Complementary And Alternative Medical Treatments Provide Added Pain

Safe pregnancy pain management techniques that may be used along with conventional medicine or as an alternative option include one or a combination of the following treatments2:

Research indicates favorable results for these therapies when used under the guidance of a trained medical professional.

Back pain during pregnancy affects the lower musculoskeletal system, causing excessive strain on the lower back, hip, pelvis, and legs. Women who follow appropriate treatment protocols and engage in back and core strengthening therapy during early pregnancy can avoid or reduce the severity of lower back pain.2

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Lower Back Pain In Pregnancy

Mechanical instability in the lumbar spine and pelvis commonly results in lower back pain in pregnant women.

  • The lumbar spine undergoes compensatory lordosisan increase in the reverse C-shaped curvaturewhich causes excess strain on the lumbar joints, muscles, ligaments, and discs.
  • The psoas muscle in the hip, which stabilizes the spine and helps in hip and leg movements, is shortened due to the compensatory lordosis, exacerbating the lower back pain symptoms.2

Lower back pain symptoms may start at any time during pregnancy. These symptoms may feel like:

  • A dull ache or sharp, burning pain in the lower back area
  • One-sided pain in the right or left area of the lower and/or mid-back
  • Pain that radiates into the back of the thigh and leg, and sometimes into the foot
  • Foot drop, a condition characterized by the inability to lift the front part of the foot while walking

Sciatica symptoms typically occur if a lower lumbar and/or upper sacral nerve root is impinged in the lower spine due to a lumbar herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, facet joint disorder, or muscle sprain and spasm.

Women with a history of back pain, pre-existing lower back disorders, multiple pregnancies, and/or those who are in the younger or older age-groups may be at a higher risk of developing lower back pain in pregnancy.2

Are Topical Pain Relief Medications Safe During Pregnancy

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It depends on the medication.

OTC topical products that contain menthol are often considered safe to use during all trimesters of pregnancy. Topical OTC products that contain lidocaine may also be safe. Animal studies havent linked pregnancy complications to these products, but human studies are rather limited. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider if either is OK for you to use.

On the other hand, its important to try to avoid topical NSAIDs.

Just like their oral counterparts, theyre not usually considered safe during pregnancy. Many products such as Bengay, IcyHot, and Aspercreme contain a NSAID called methyl salicylate. Voltaren gel, which went OTC in 2020, contains a NSAID called diclofenac. Topical NSAIDs have been connected to possible birth defects in case reports.

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Treatments For Back Pain During Pregnancy

Try the following remedies to relieve your pregnancy backaches:

  • Consider getting a crisscross support sling or belly band. Designed specifically for a pregnant figure, these support bands can help take the burden off your lower back.
  • No reaching for the stars. Or items on the top shelf, for that matter. Use a low, stable step stool to avoid putting any additional strain on your back.
  • Think happy thoughts. A calm mind leads to a looser back. You can also try some prenatal yoga, which will relax both your mind and your back.
  • Strengthen your stomach. Do pelvic tilts to strengthen your abs, which in turn support your back. Or sit on an exercise ball and rock back and forth.
  • Go hot and cold. Soothe sore muscles by applying cold compresses, then warm compresses in 15-minute intervals.
  • Take a warm bath. Or, if you have a pulsating showerhead, turn it on for a free back massage.
  • Get a massage. Speaking of massages, go get one .
  • Talk to your doctor. Ask your practitioner about physical therapists, alternative medicine specialists such as acupuncturists, or chiropractors who might be able to help. You should also call your practitioner if you have severe back pain.

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:

  • Severe pain
  • 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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What Can I Do To Relieve My Pregnancy Backaches

I’m 7 months pregnant and my back is killing me! How can I get some relief? Fiona

Many pregnant women have achy backs as their bellies grow larger and their muscles and spine strain to carry the extra weight.

During pregnancy, the body also produces the hormone relaxin, which helps prepare the body for childbirth. One of the effects of relaxin is the loosening of ligaments throughout the body, making pregnant women less stable and more prone to injury, especially in their backs.

Here are some ways to help ease your back pain:

Back pain also can be a sign of something else, like labor starting or a urinary tract infection . If you have any questions or concerns, severe pain, pain that isn’t getting better, or other symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Physical Therapy And Exercise

Back Pain While Breastfeeding – Causes and Tips for Relief

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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Pain Medications While Pregnant And Breastfeeding

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

According to the results of research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, most pain meds are not safe for use during pregnancy because they can increase the risks of miscarriages. Additionally, the use of painkillers during breastfeeding can also lead to severe medical conditions, including liver toxicity and delayed development in the newborn. This is why taking medication for pain while pregnancy or breastfeeding should be approached with extreme caution. Taking pain meds while pregnant sometimes necessary and they shouldnt harm either mother or baby, so there are several drugs suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. What are the dangerous and safe painkillers to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Learn About Using Painkillers While Pregnant:


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