Low Back Pain and Pregnancy

Low back pain develops very often during pregnancy, and especially towards the end of pregnancy. Since prudent advice is to avoid drugs, especially throughout pregnancy, other avenues of pain relief need to be explored.

During pregnancy, a woman usually gains more than 20 pounds. The most sudden increase in weight gain is during the last trimester. The pregnant woman carries the majority of this weight (including fetus!) in the front of her body, her abdomen. Her center of gravity shifts forward. In response, her low back may begin to arch more than usual.

The increase in low back curvature, and the relaxing of abdominal or stomach muscles, effects the posture of the pregnant woman. Pain in the low back or front of the pelvis may be noticed. Sitting or rising from a chair or bed can become difficult.

Along with weight changes, hormonal changes play a role in the low back pain of pregnancy. Hormonal changes can soften and relax the structures supporting the pelvis and low back. These changes prepare for the delivery of the baby through the pelvic ring. In the fourth month of pregnancy, increased motion of the low back and pelvis occurs and can affect walking.

Softening and lengthening of ligaments can remain 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. Several months may be necessary to regain strength of these structures. During the healing months, the mother lifts and carries her newborn, further stressing these structures. The pain and force of delivery itself can bring on low back pain or groin pain that can last well after the baby is born. Incidentally, hormonal changes leading to softening of the low back and pelvic structures can also occur to a lesser extent during menstruation and menopause.

The hormonal and structural changes of pregnancy may aggravate a previous low back condition. By becoming aware of the increased low back stresses during pregnancy, women should be encouraged to make some adjustments in their daily habits.

Pillows supporting the legs, back, and abdomen can help sleeping. Physicians suggest avoiding sleeping on the back towards the end of pregnancy. In this position, the fetus and placenta can press on the mother’s major blood supply to the abdomen and lower part of the body. Adapting to this new sleeping position, though, can make a mother to be uncomfortable.

Walking is generally safe and recommended during pregnancy. Wearing supportive and lower heeled shoes makes good sense. Careful stretching may be helpful with new walking routines. As the pregnant woman does gain weight walking may be uncomfortable and also prompt chiropractic attention. Effective treatment of low back pain without medication should include gentle chiropractic mobilization. Special techniques can be used with pregnant patients to ensure the comfort of the mother-to-be, and is one of safest treatments available.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and hand pain are common during pregnancy as a result of swelling in the wrists. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome often responds well to chiropractic care.

The same chiropractic treatment that is considered safe during pregnancy can also be applied to other low back pain sufferers. Careful chiropractic is gentle and effective. By relieving some of the associated low back pain with chiropractic care, pregnancy can become more enjoyable for the mother.