Pregnancy And Back Pain
Back pain during pregnancy is frequently targeted to the sacroiliac joint (often referred to as the SIJ), at the pubic symphysis which is the front connection where the two halves of the pelvis meet and in the lumbar spine.
With pregnancy there are a number of significant changes that can occur which may be responsible for the onset of pregnancy back pain in there areas.
Postural Changes: With increasing baby weight and a growing tummy in the later stages of pregnancy there can be a significant shift to your bodies center of gravity. As a result, of this shift your body will adjust the way you sit, stand, move… These changes can cause back pain in your lower back, as well as upper back, neck and shoulders.
Weight Gain: Weight gain during pregnancy is healthy but the body and spine obviously has to support this increased weight. This extra weight can cause lower back pain. As well as this weight of the growing and uterus can put pressure on blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back causing pregnancy back pain.
Hormonal Changes: A hormone called relaxin is produced by your body during pregnancy, this hormone has the function of allowing the ligaments in the pelvic area to become looser in preparation for the birth process. Basically meaning the pelvis has a bit more “give” in it to allow the baby to pass though. This hormone relaxin can therefore cause ligaments supporting the spine to “loosen” also. This loosening of the supportive spine and pelvic ligaments may play a role in creating a situation of instability in the spine. This instability may be amplified if too there was any weakness of the spinal muscles before falling pregnant. Pain in the front of the pelvis at the pubic symphysis from instability / separation of this joint known as pubic symphysis diastasis is relatively rare but can occur during pregnancy and in severe cases can be significantly disabling.
Diastasis Recti: Diastasis recti refers to seperation of your abdominal muscles specifically the “rectus abdominis” which is your six pack muscle (if you are ever lucky enough to have had one of those). During pregnancy because so much pressure is placed on the belly it means sometimes that these front muscles can’t keep their shape and this can play a role in causing or worsening back pain because of the role this muscle plays in supporting and moving the spine. It’s very common among pregnant women, suggested that about two-thirds of pregnant women have it.
Treatment For Pregnancy Back Pain
Generally unless you had chronic back pain prior to falling pregnant your pain will most likely settle once you give birth. And just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean there isn’t anything that can be done to ease the pain you are having.
Physiotherapists are skilled in assessing and recoginising what is causing your pregnancy back pain and can offer a number of treatment approaches from performing simple manual therapy techniques to prescription of appropriate home exercises or necessary support brace options stretch or stabilize the spine and associated areas where necessary.
Physiotherapist are also skilled at assessing and adjusting posture and because of the postural changes occurring during pregnancy seeing a physiotherapist to discuss simple options when sitting, sleeping and standing to relieve pressure from your spine can be of benefit. Your physio help will devise with you a program / approach tailored to your needs and appropriate to the stage of your pregnancy.
Tip: Pillows used between your knees or pregnancy pillows used correctly can help keep the spine in a neutral position when side lying which is typically the advisable resting position, be it either on the floor as an alternative to sitting at home or in bed when sleeping.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Pregnancy Back Pain should consult his or her midwife, obstetrician, general practitioner, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.