Easing Back Pain During Pregnancy
Back pain is a common compliant during pregnancy. Most women experience back pain at some point during pregnancy, usually in the later months, in addition to morning sickness, food cravings and weight gain. However, there are a few things you can do to minimize your back pain and concentrate on the arrival of your baby.
Back pain during pregnancy may be caused by several factors including hormonal changes, weight gain, spinal alignment and activity levels.
Hormonal changes in pregnancy can loosen the joints and ligaments making them softer and more elastic, in preparation for the birthing process. These changes affect the spinal stability and natural back support mechanism, especially as the weight of the baby increases.
Your centre of gravity shifts as the baby grows, which causes your posture to change. The abdominal muscles become stretched and may weaken, causing back pain. This can lead to a noticeable "sway-back" appearance causing back pain. The pressure on the sciatic nerve or on a spinal disc can also cause radiating pain through the hips, buttocks and legs.
Listed below are preventive measures you can implement to help reduce the occurrence of back pain during pregnancy:
- Maintain a reasonable amount of activity and include exercises to strengthen your back and abdomen as recommended by your physician or physical therapist.
- If prolonged sitting is required, take frequent breaks to stretch the legs and back.
- Practice good posture to reduce the strain in the lower back. This can be done by standing as straight as possible, keeping the shoulders back and relaxed. If possible, in sitting position keep the feet slightly elevated. Choose a chair with good back support or use a small pillow for support and change the position frequently.
- To pick up things you should squat down using your knees and keep the back straight. Avoid positions that require twisting and bending movements and any activities that are painful.
- Avoid wearing high heel shoes and instead wear ‘sensible shoes’ with low heels and good arch support.
- Wear a support belt under your lower abdomen, later in your pregnancy.
- Get a sufficient amount of sleep. Practice relaxation techniques to keep your stress level down. Sleep on one side of the body rather than on the back with the knees bent. If needed place a pillow around the abdomen for extra support and between the knees to keep the spine aligned.
If you are pregnant and experiencing back pain, consult your doctor and discuss the options of physiotherapy and massage therapy for control of pain. You may also consult a physiotherapist without a referral. Commonly recommended therapies for managing pregnancy related back pain include hot or cold therapy; a warm bath, hot bags, or an ice pack. As the pregnancy progresses a specifically designed physiotherapy program may be recommended to manage the discomfort at various stage of pregnancy. Specific pelvic – floor and low back exercises also may be prescribed to reduce the pain and improve the strength. If required, analgesic medications may be recommended by your physician. Massage therapy can help relief the discomfort of pregnancy related back pain and help with stress, tension, pregnancy related anxieties and provide comfort to the expecting mother.
Call your Doctor right away if you experience a dull, cramping low back pain, which can be a sign of preterm labour. If severe and sudden back pain occurs along with fever or vaginal spotting or bleeding, call your doctor right away. Any numbness or weakness in the legs, buttocks, groin and genital area also requires your doctor’s immediate attention.
An initial assessment can be done by our experienced and highly skilled physiotherapists to determine the best treatment. Often the treatment plan includes massage therapy, special exercises, posture instruction, stretches and other pain relieving techniques.