Condition Of The Month: Pregnancy-Related Low Back Pain

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Low back pain during pregnancy is quite common. In fact, between 50-75% of all pregnant women will experience low back pain. The pain is usually caused from rapid changes in weight, posture, gait and hormones.

The average woman gains between 20-40 pounds throughout pregnancy. This weight gain moves your center of gravity forward, causing your pelvis to tilt and your lower back to sway – placing excessive stress on the ligaments, discs, and joints of your spine.

Pregnancy-related low back pain typically starts between the fifth and seventh month of pregnancy, although a significant portion of women experience pain sooner. Symptoms often begin at the base of your spine and may radiate into your buttock or thigh. Discomfort is often aggravated by prolonged standing, sitting, coughing, or sneezing. Your symptoms may increase throughout the day, and some patients report nighttime pain that disturbs their sleep. The extremes of activity seem to contribute to pregnancy-related low back pain – with increased risk for both “sedentary” and “physically demanding” lifestyles. Patients who have suffered with back pain prior to pregnancy are more than twice as likely to re-develop back pain during pregnancy.

Be sure to tell your doctor if your symptoms include fever, chills, bleeding, spotting, unusual discharge, cramping, sudden onset pelvis pain, light-headedness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, calf pain or swelling, decreased fetal movement, or symptoms that radiate beyond your knee.

Unfortunately, pregnancy related low back pain occurs at a time when your medical treatment options are limited. Not surprisingly, over 90% of prenatal health care providers would recommend drug-free treatment, including the type of alternative therapy provided in this office. Studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation provides significant relief of pregnancy- related low back pain. Almost 75% of women undergoing chiropractic care report significant pain reduction with improved ability to function.

Most patients will also benefit from continuing aerobic exercise throughout pregnancy. The US Department of Health and Human Services advises that healthy pregnant women may begin or continue moderate intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. Women should not begin “vigorous” exercise during pregnancy, but those who were preconditioned to vigorous exercise may continue. Be sure to check with your doctor prior to initiating or increasing any exercise program while you are pregnant.

Be sure to take frequent breaks from prolonged sitting or standing. You may find benefit by using a small footstool to alternate feet while standing. Sleeping with a pillow between the knees in a side lying posture may help you to rest more comfortably. You should wear shoes with good arch supports. In some cases, your chiropractor may recommend a sacroiliac belt or pelvic support belt to help relieve your pregnancy-related low back pain.

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