While women may be able to catch a reprieve from the nausea, dizziness and fatigue that plague their first trimester, many unfortunately find themselves dealing with the onset of back pain in their second and third trimesters.
Back pain during pregnancy is fairly common and happens for a number of reasons. Weight gain averages between 20 to 35 pounds, which puts pressure on the joints and nerves of the spine. This can lead to pain and discomfort. Postural changes can also contribute to pain as the body’s natural curves are exaggerated during pregnancy. Toward the end of pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin, responsible for loosening the ligaments in the pelvis to prepare for birth, can also affect the ligaments that support the spine.
There are several types of back pain common to pregnancy. The first is low back pain. Low back pain is often felt around waist level and is exacerbated by prolonged positions such as sitting or standing for long periods of time. This type of pain is often worse at the end of the day but can be relieved with rest.
The second type of pain is posterior pelvic pain. This is pain felt lower on the body such as below the waist and often extends to the buttocks or the back of the thighs. This pain is commonly described as deep and achy in nature. Posterior pelvic pain is usually worse in the morning and associated with movement and changing positions. Unlike low back pain, posterior pelvic pain does not resolve itself with rest.
The third type of back pain related to pregnancy is labor pain. It is important to know the difference between labor pain and the other two discussed. Labor pain affects the back as well, but this type of pain is constant and will increase in intensity and frequency in a short time period.
With professional assistance, there are ways to stay ahead of back pain during pregnancy. There also are steps you can take on your own. Here are a few:
Adjustments — In the front of everyone’s mind when they think of in-office treatment is usually the chiropractic adjustment. Spinal adjustments are a frequently used treatment for back pain during pregnancy. Adjustments can help relieve back and leg pain by relieving pressure and restoring motion to the joints of the spine.
Manual Therapy — Manual therapy can come in different forms such as instrument assisted or massage therapy. The goal with manual therapy is to relieve muscle tension and increase blood flow to the affected areas. Manual therapy is a great and healthy way to reduce back and leg pain.
Acupuncture — Acupuncture treatment offers a safe alternative for treating back pain related to pregnancy. Not only can it treat pain but as an added bonus, acupuncture treatments may help prepare the body for labor and delivery as well as reduce morning sickness, depression, heartburn, headaches and more.
ON YOUR OWN
Proper Posture — Stand tall with shoulders back and chest high. Widen your stance, and don’t lock your knees. When sitting, make sure your chair supports your back and your feet rest comfortably on the floor. When sleeping, lie on your left side if possible with a pillow between your knees so that they are shoulder-width apart. And when lifting, avoid bending at the waist by squating and using your legs.
Function Over Fashion — I may be the worst culprit of this BUT… Ladies, put those heels away! High heels, although they look great, shift your center of gravity even more forward and can contribute to pain and even falls. Wear shoes with a lower heel and good arch support.
Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! — Studies show that exercising while pregnant can reduce the risk of pregnancy and delivery complications and even help speed up recovery after delivery. It is suggested that women maintain their pre-pregnancy workouts as long as they are practical and aim for 30 minutes of activity per day. For those of you that don’t have a pre-pregnancy workout plan, start with a brisk walk every day for five minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes. While most physical activity is safe during pregnancy, there are some things to avoid such as sports with a high risk of falling, contact and drastic temperature changes.
Please don’t hesitate to call me with any questions or concerns you may have with back pain during pregnancy. I’m here to help!
Chiropractic care, acupuncture help ease first-trimester symptoms