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Back Pain during Pregnancy and Tips for Managing it
At least 50% of women will experience back pain during or after their pregnancy. When women are pregnant they generally gain a healthy 20-40 pounds. This weight is mostly centrally located in the abdomen which adds a heavy frontal load. The weight puts added stress on the back, hips and lower limb joints and can lead to pain.
Posture and biomechanics can be affected by the change in weight of the mother. This is hard on the mother especially as the baby and uterus grows, and the abdominal muscles stretch. The stretching of the abdominal muscles prevents them from helping to stabilize and support the mother like they used to, which can lead to an increase in pain and discomfort.
Hormonal and Circulatory Changes
Another cause of discomfort during pregnancy is the levels of the hormone Relaxin. These hormone levels start to increase in the third semester, getting the pelvis ready for the birthing process. Relaxin affects the ligaments which loosens the joints leading to decreased stability. Decreased stability can once again lead to alterations in posture leading to pain, discomfort and possibly injury. During pregnancy, blood volume can increase by 50% which can lead to swelling and inflammation and can contribute to your pain.
Tips for minimizing Back Pain during Pregnancy:
Exercise! – This can help increase muscle support. Low impact exercise, such as walking and swimming, can help decrease your pain and increase your functional capacity. Exercise has also been shown to have great effects on your developing baby. Make sure to involve your healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise program.
Rest! – Taking time to rest is important during pregnancy as your body is changing so much, as well as supporting the growth of your future child. Rest helps to restore your energy and give your joints a well-deserved break.
Sleep! – When sleeping, try to sleep on your left side to reduce the pressure of the uterus on major blood vessels. This makes sure there is good blood supply to you and the baby. Sleeping with a pillow between your legs when on your side can reduce strain on your lower back.
Chiropractic Care! – Chiropractic care is a great tool to cope with and decrease the likelihood of pregnancy related pain. Numerous studies show that chiropractic manual therapies reduce back pain during pregnancy. In one study, women who received chiropractic care reported less pain throughout the pregnancy and during labour. Chiropractic care is safe, effective and a drug free alternative to relieve pain during pregnancy.
Chiropractic Tools for relieving pregnancy pain:
- Adjustments: With the added weight and increased laxity in joints, chiropractic adjustments or manipulations can help to restore proper motion and function of the joints and muscles.
- Webster technique: This technique is a combination of adjustments and soft tissue therapy. This technique helps to relax the pelvis allowing both the baby and mom to be comfortable. This technique is commonly known to turn babies when they are in a breech position.
- Taping: Taping can help to provide support, increase proprioception and increase muscle engagement to help prevent back pain from occurring. There are many different types of taping techniques some of which may load the additional weight of the growing uterus differently which can decrease the load on the mother, resulting in decreased pain.
- Exercises: Chiropractors can provide safe and effective exercises that pregnant women can do to help stabilize and support their changing body.
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Kalinowski, Paweł, and Anna Krawulska. “Kinesio Taping vs. Placebo in Reducing Pregnancy-Related Low Back Pain: A Cross-Over Study.” Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal Of Experimental And Clinical Research, vol. 23, Dec. 2017, pp. 6114–6120. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.cmcc.ca/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mnh&AN=29277836&site=eds-live.
Vermani, Era, et al. “Pelvic Girdle Pain and Low Back Pain in Pregnancy: A Review.” Pain Practice, vol. 10, no. 1, Jan. 2010, pp. 60–71. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1533-2500.2009.00327.x.