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What To Do For Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

Managing Back Pain During Pregnancy

Managing low back pain during pregnancy

We have all heard that pregnancy is meant to be a beautiful time of luscious hair, glowing skin while effortlessly growing a whole person. However, it isnt not always sunshine and rainbows, at some point many women will experience back pain during pregnancy. For some it may be minimal and fleeting, but for others it can be unrelenting and debilitating. Conditions that are commonly experienced in pregnancy include sciatica, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and pubic symphysis dysfunction.

When Being Pregnant Becomes A Pain In The Back

The cause of pregnancy related lower back pain is multifaceted, these are some of the most common causes:

  • Posture changes- as your belly grows it causes changes in your posture as the bodys centre of gravity shifts forward.
  • Hormonal changes- the hormones that allow the pelvis to open up for the birth process can also cause instability in the spine and pelvis
  • Weight fluctuations- commonly women will gain between 10-15 kg in pregnancy, this again will have an effect on posture and centre of gravity
  • Core muscle changes- the core muscles and pelvic floor are what stabilise the pelvis and lumbar spine. They both go through massive changes when you are pregnant and this can lead to spinal and pelvic instability.
  • Exacerbation of an old injury- as all of the above happen throughout a pregnancy, it can lead to an exacerbation of an old or underlying injury.

Area And Quality Of Pain

The localization of pain is deep. Itâs even possible that localization of the pain changes over time. Pelvic girdle pain has been described as âstabbingââ , pain in the lower back as a âdull acheââ and the pain in the thoracic spine is rather âburningââ. Other pain-descriptions are: shooting pain, feeling of oppression and a sharp twinge.Pregnancy-related low back pain is characterized by a dull pain and is more pronounced in forward flexion with associated restriction in spine movement and palpation of the erector spinae muscles exacerbates pain.

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Ways To Ease Back Pain During Pregnancy

Brian Levine, MD, MS, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Low back pain and pelvic pain are among the most common problems that occur during pregnancy if you are pregnant and experiencing these symptoms, read on, you’re not alone. About half of pregnant women will complain of significant low back pain symptoms. The changes your body experiences during pregnancy are dramatic, and these physiologic changes can cause unexpected pain and difficulty with seemingly normal activities.

Contrary to popular belief, back pain is not only a problem later in pregnancy. In fact, the incidence of back pain during pregnancy peaks around 18-24 weeks. While the added weight of the developing fetus is a large component of why pregnant women develop these symptoms, it is not the only reason. A complex set of physiologic changes in the body can contribute to the development of lower back symptoms.

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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.

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Natural Ways To Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy

When your baby bump is causing back pain, there are plenty of things you can do to feel better without taking over-the-counter pain killers.

During pregnancy, that bowling ball, a.k.a. baby, inside your uterus changes your whole centre of gravity, which results in your pelvis arahifting forward. This can lead to a common form of back pain known as pelvic girdle pain , which spans from the middle lower back area all the way around to your hips and pubic bone, says Sarah Mickeler, chiropractor and founder of West End Mamas, a clinic in Toronto that specializes in pre- and postnatal care.

At the same time, in order to compensate for this forward shift in their pelvis, many women naturally lean backward, which increases the curve of their lower back, potentially leading to low-back pain. Ouch!

All of this can add up to a lot of aches and pains, but the good news is there are a number of ways to prevent and treat it. Pregnancy does not have to hurt, says Mickeler. Here are some ways to find relief from pregnancy-related back pain.

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 .

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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

Exercise The Pain Away

How to do exercises during pregnancy for lower back pain

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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Here Bodytonic Clinic Share Their Top 13 Ways That Women Can Alleviate The Symptoms Of Pregnancy

It is very common for pregnant women to experience back pain, especially during the early trimesters of their pregnancy. In fact, 50% of women will experience back pain during pregnancy, in some capacity. Unfortunately, back pain can be very irritating and uncomfortable to deal with, especially whilst managing your other pregnancy symptoms too. To help you through this time, Bodytonic Clinic has brought you their top tips for dealing with back pain through your pregnancy.

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.

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When To Call Your Healthcare Provider

While some low back pain and discomfort are normal during pregnancy, there will be instances where you should reach out to your obstetrician or another healthcare professional.

Contact your healthcare professional for the following low back symptoms:

  • Any severe pain in your back
  • Low back pain that lasts more than two weeks
  • Low back pain accompanied by abdominal cramping that gets gradually worse
  • Pain or other difficulties with urinating
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Any abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Fever and/chills

These symptoms are concerning and require immediate medical attention. Back pain in pregnancy might be a sign of preterm labor or a urinary tract infection. If back pain is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, fever, or burning with urination, you should reach out to your healthcare provider right away.

Keep Changing Your Posture

Exercise For Back Pain During Pregnancy ...

Change your position often to avoid over-stressing your joints.

You can also practice improving your posture by following these steps:

  • Keep your knees soft.
  • Stack your pelvis under your rib cage.
  • Tilt your pubic bone and breastbone towards each other.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down.
  • Tuck your chin.
  • Keep the back of your neck long.
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    Hot And Cold Compresses

    To ease your back pain, you can try using a hot and cold compress on your back. Applying first hot and then cold compresses to the area that is sore, can lower the body temperature helping to constrict the blood vessels, reduce swelling and decrease inflammation in your muscles. However, make sure to consult a health professional such as your GP or midwife before trying this, because it is not safe to apply heat to certain parts of the body such as your abdomen whilst pregnant.

    How Your Partner Or Doula Can Help You

    • They can place a heating pad, heated rice sock, or cold compress against your back. Try both heat and cold to see which works best for you.
    • A small 2008 study showed that over 65 percent of women with lower back pain, even those who had continual pain, said that massage was the best relief. Have someone apply pressure to your lower back. They can use their fists, a rolling pin, or tennis balls.

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    Contact Your Family Doctor If:

    • Your pain worsens or does not go away after 2 weeks. Back pain could be a sign of preterm labor.
    • You lose feeling in your back, legs, pelvis, or genital area.
    • You have a fever, a burning feeling when you pee, or vaginal bleeding. You may have a urinary tract infection or kidney infection.
    • You have an injury or trauma that results in back pain.

    Stretches For Lower Back

    What can I do for lower back pain and hip pain during pregnancy?

    In a perfect world, the best time to get in tip-top physical shape is before you conceive. But for the majority of expectant mothers, this is not the case. For some, pregnancy is actually a motivator to get moving and improve their level of physical fitness. Some reasons expectant mothers decide to improve their fitness level are fear of a difficult labor and delivery, wanting more energy to handle the demands of motherhood after the baby is born, or it may be that by being pregnant, they are taking more time to care for themselves. For some expectant mothers, they start exercising or stretching to help provide relief for lower back pain or a bad case of sciatica.

    Sometimes you may feel shooting pains in your lower back and legs. These pains occur when your enlarging uterus or the babys head presses down on the sciatic nerves, the major nerves that run from the backbone through the pelvis and down towards each leg. Most mothers who have had an attack of sciatica during pregnancy learn quickly there is really no other discomfort quite like it. Sciatica is aggravated by normal everyday activities like lifting, bending, and even walking.

    This is just what it sounds like. Balance your body steady yourself with a counter, table, or piece of furniture and squat for one minute at a time, 10 times a day. This is a great stretch and toner for legs and perineal muscles.

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    Back Pain During Pregnancy

    Back pain or discomfort is common during pregnancy and should be expected to some degree by most women. Back pain may be experienced during any point of your pregnancy however, it most commonly occurs later in pregnancy as baby grows.Back pain can disrupt your daily routine or interfere with a good night of sleep. The good news is there are steps you can take to manage the back pain that you experience.

    Back Pain Is Common During Pregnancy But Can Be Lessened

    Back pain is a common part of pregnancy, especially in the later months. If youre pregnant, back pain may be making your life miserable.

    Dont dismiss the aches and pain as simply part of your condition, however. Consider the many things you can do to avoid or relieve back pain during pregnancy.

    Many pregnant women can ease their back pain through postural awareness and exercises that relieve back strain, says Kerrie Adams, MD, an OB-GYN at Scripps Clinic Hillcrest. But if your back pain persists, seek medical attention. Your doctor can help determine the cause of your pain and ways to address it.

    Women should consult with their health care provider before starting any new medications or treatments for any pregnancy-related discomfort, Dr. Adams adds.

    Causes of back pain during pregnancy

    Several factors can contribute to back pain during pregnancy, including weight changes, pregnancy hormones, and a shift in posture.

    The hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy cause ligament laxity, especially where the pelvis and spine connect. This happens to prepare passage of the baby through the birth canal but can lead to joint instability and cause back pain.

    As the weight of the baby increases, so does the pressure on the spine and pelvic areas. Women typically gain between 25- and 35-pounds during pregnancy.

    There is also a change in your center of gravity during pregnancy due to your expanding uterus, which can cause postural changes and put stress on your back.

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    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.

    Try Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

    Exercise For Back Pain During Pregnancy ...

    Another contributor to back pain is overly tight pelvic muscles. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can help you work on those internal muscles by doing whats basically a massage of your pelvic floor through your vagina. This type of treatment has added benefits, too, as Mickeler says it can reduce the incidence of tearing during delivery, and give you a head start for recovery after your baby is born.

    A pelvic floor physiotherapist can also assess the shape of whats called your deep core, which consists of your pelvic floor, your diaphragm, your transverse abdominis and a muscle in your lower back. Mickeler explains that if one part of your deep core isnt working well, it can mean that other parts of your body will have to compensate, which may lead to pain. Aside from working internally, pelvic floor physiotherapists can also use exercise- and rehab-based techniques to help with low-back pain.

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    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 .

    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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