Along with morning sickness, food cravings and weight gain, back pain can be a common complaint during pregnancy. There are a few things you can do, however, to prevent pregnancy-related back pain or manage your discomfort once it starts.
If you’re pregnant and your back hurts, please talk with your doctor.
Preparing for a baby’s birth can be an exciting time. But as any woman with a dog-eared copy of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ knows, a certain amount of physical discomfort is normal during pregnancy and, well, to be expected. qBack pain is a common complaint in the months leading up to delivery, especially during the final trimester, but there are a few things you can do to manage your back pain so that you can keep the focus on what’s most important – getting ready to welcome your new baby!
According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, more than 50% of pregnant women report low back pain at some point during their term; some studies have found the incidence to be as high as 70%. “The incidence of low back pain in pregnant women is well over double the incidence of back pain in those who are not pregnant in the same age group,” says orthopaedic surgeon John G. Peters, MD, medical director of Medtronic, Inc., the world’s leading spinal device company.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, women most frequently report low back pain later in their pregnancies, as the baby grows larger and heavier; however, some women also start feeling low back pain early in their term. Women who may be most at risk for developing back pain during their pregnancies are those who are overweight (though studies are inconclusive on this), or who experienced back pain prior to becoming pregnant. Women who lack flexibility and strength in their back and abdominal muscles and those carrying more than one baby also may be more susceptible.
There are a number of reasons you can develop back pain during pregnancy. “It’s a multifactorial issue,” Dr. Peters says. “Hormonal alterations in soft tissue and even bone tissue play a part, along with changes in weight, spinal alignment, and activity level.”
The hormones that are released during pregnancy allow joints and ligaments in the pelvic area to become more pliant and loose, in preparation for the birthing process, Dr. Peters explains. The downside of this softening is that it can affect the natural support your back normally receives, particularly as the weight of your baby increases.
A growing baby also causes your centre of gravity to shift. Abdominal muscles stretch and weaken, making it more difficult to maintain good posture and further challenging your natural spinal alignment. “In the third trimester, for example, the forward flexion of the hips brings the pelvis and sacrum forward as well, contributing to a ‘swayback’ effect in the lumbar spine,” Dr. Peters says. “Increasing breast tissue can also accentuate this shift in spinal realignment. Some of these tissue and mechanical alignment alterations are good for the body, in order to distribute weight gain to the middle of the body where, structurally, it’s the strongest. But in a woman whose structure is weak where stress is magnified, low back pain can be the result.”
Common patterns of pregnancy-related back pain include pain in the lower back, or lumbar spine, and pain that feels like it’s centred even lower in the body, in the back, or posterior, of the pelvic area. If pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve or presses on a spinal disc, pain may extend through the hips, buttocks and legs.
To optimise your chances of keeping back pain at bay, there are a variety of preventive measures you can take:
If you are experiencing pregnancy-related back pain, consult with your doctor and follow his or her suggestions as to what’s right for you. In addition to the above preventive measures, commonly prescribed therapies for easing pregnancy-related back pain can include:
“Women dealing with low back pain during their pregnancies do have options,” Dr. Peters says. “But please, do not pursue a treatment therapy without the approval of your obstetrician.”
This article was written by Alisha John who can be contacted on the web link: www.rydenaturalhealthclinic.com.au
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