Pregnancy is an exciting time filled with joy and anticipation for the new arrival. It’s also a time that the body goes through physical changes, which may include new aches or pains, such as pelvic pain or back pain. It is estimated that at least 50% of pregnant women experience back pain during pregnancy with the fifth and seventh month being the most common time for it.
Causes of pregnancy related back pain
The causes of back pain during pregnancy are primarily due to structural changes. Greater weight in the front of the abdomen leads to an exaggeration of lumbar lordosis (the curve in your lower back) which causes more stress on the joints and discs. Relaxin, a hormone which helps loosen the joints for the birthing process, increases through pregnancy leading to hypermobility of the joints. Subsequently joints are more susceptible to injury and malposition causing aches and pains. Reactive tightening of the iliopsoas and piriformis muscles in the hip and buttock region can also occur further compounding stresses and strains.
As pregnancy progresses, headaches, neck, and mid back pain may also occur as exaggerations to the cervical (neck) and thoracic (mid-back) curves become more pronounced. Rib pain within the third trimester is often common especially if the baby is pushing up against the diaphragm.
Risk factors for back pain during pregnancy include: previous low back pain, multiple births, strenuous work, increased age.
Treatment of pregnancy related back pain
It’s fairly common for pregnant women to seek out safe pain-relieving therapies such as chiropractic or massage therapy; other options such as electrical modalities and some pharmacological agents may be contraindicated during pregnancy. Research shows chiropractic care to be a safe and effective therapy to reduce back pain and pelvic pain through pregnancy. Chiropractic adjustments help to both decrease pain and help joints function at their best through this time of transition. Myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and assisted stretches may also help to ease tight muscles.
Post pregnancy aches and pains are also a common experience. The body has gone through a rapid change, and and it can take some time for it to settle back to normal. As well, the stresses and strains of being a mother – lifting, carrying, and feeding/nursing a newborn – can add up. Chiropractic care can help with this transition.
If you would like to know more about how chiropractic care can help you during or after your pregnancy please give us a call or email at Clear Path Chiropractic in downtown Guelph.
Borggren, CL. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. Journal of Chiro Medicine 2007; 6: 70-74.
Peterson CK, Mühlemann D, Humphreys BK. Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2014; 22: 15.
Stuber, K et al. Chiropractic treatment of pregnancy related low back pain: a systematic review of the evidence. JMPT 2008; 31: 447-454.