Pregnancy: Achy Back? Let’s solve it

Pregnancy creates a great deal of strain on a woman’s body. It increases pressure on the spine, feet and the legs. All these can result in severe lower back pain during pregnancy. Back pain during pregnancy is not a trivial matter. If not addressed, back pain in pregnancy can have a negative impact on your daily lifestyle, from possibly causing missed time from work to making your delivery more difficult.

While it is fairly common, back pain during pregnancy should definitely not be accepted as just part of the process. It is estimated that between 50% and 80% of women experience some form of back pain during pregnancy. Such pain can range from mild pain associated with specific activities to acute back pain that can become chronic back pain.

To help make your pregnancy as pleasant as possible and facilitate an easier delivery, back pain should always be addressed as quickly as possible and managed throughout your pregnancy.

Studies show that lower back pain in pregnancy usually occurs between the fifth and seventh month of being pregnant. In some cases, pregnancy pain in the lower back can begin as early as 8 to 12 weeks after becoming pregnant. Women with pre-existing lower back problems are at higher risk for back pain, and their back pain can occur earlier in the pregnancy.

Types of Pregnancy backache: 

  • Lumbar, or lower back pain
  • Posterior pelvic pain 

Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy (Lumbar Pain)

Lumbar pain during pregnancy is generally located at and above the waist in the centre of the back. In general, lumbar pain during pregnancy is similar to lower back pain experienced by non-pregnant women. This type of pain typically increases with prolonged postures (such as sitting, standing, or repetitive lifting), and tenderness may also be present in the muscles along the spine during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Pelvic Pain

Posterior pelvic pain (in the back of the pelvis) is four times more prevalent than lumbar pain in pregnancy. It is a deep pain felt below and to the side at the waistline, and/or below the waistline on either side across the tailbone. Such pregnancy pelvic pain may be experienced on one or both sides.

Posterior pelvic pain during pregnancy can be brought on or exacerbated by the following activities:

  • Rolling in bed
  • Climbing stairs
  • Sitting and rising from a seated position (such as getting in and out of cars, bathtubs, bed)
  • Lifting, twisting, bending forward
  • Running and walking.

A job that involves prolonged postures at extreme ranges (such as sitting at a computer and leaning forward, standing and leaning over a desk or workstation) increases the risk of developing pregnancy pelvic pain.

Unlike many other forms of lower back pain in pregnancy, a previous high level of fitness does not necessarily prevent posterior pelvic pain while pregnant.

Natural Causes of Back Pain during Pregnancy

Common changes due to pregnancy that can cause back pain include:

1.Weight gain. Pregnancy can cause you to gain as much as a quarter of your body weight, adding stress to the back and other weight-bearing structures.

2.Hormonal surges (relaxin and estrogen). Pregnancy-related hormones can cause problems by creating joint laxity, especially in the pelvis. These hormones during pregnancy help your uterus grow by loosening the joints and ligaments of the pelvic bones attached to the spine.This might affect your back and it may not be as strong and may not support your body the way it usually does and you may suffer from a severe back pain during early pregnancy.

3.Gravity: As your baby grows you will be forced to pull your body forward and your center of gravity will move forward. This change in your posture will give you a lower back pain during early pregnancy. This is why you might be shaky when standing up, sitting down or bending.

4.Stress: Pregnancy pains can make you stress over little things. And why wouldn’t it! You’re having a baby for crying out loud! It is stressful. Stress piles up in the weaker areas of the body and tightens the muscles. This causes body pain especially in the back because it is carrying most of the weight of your body.

Activities that Can Cause Back Pain during Pregnancy

Some or all of these factors can cause pregnancy pain in the lower back or posterior pelvis, especially with activities that create asymmetrical loading of the spine, pelvis, and hips. Common activities that load the spine in an uneven fashion include:

  • Rolling over in bed
  • Bending forward
  • Twisting
  • Lifting
  • Navigating stairs.

Back Pain Treatments during Pregnancy

Maintaining an optimal level of function throughout your pregnancy and having the least amount of discomfort are the main goals of treatment for back pain during pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend the following

  1. Proper posture while pregnant  
  2. Specific body mechanics for routine activities, such as housework, job, sleeping  
  3. A home exercise program appropriate for your stage of pregnancy
  4. Self-help techniques for pain management and mobilization during pregnancy

What you can do-

Correct your Posture

An appropriate posture is essential to avoid lower back pain during early pregnancy. You tend to lean forward because of the weight of the baby in front, which causes the strain on the back. To avoid this, always remember to lean back and have a straight back as much as you can.

Balance while bending

You must avoid bending down to lift things as much as possible. If you must bend, make sure to do that while squatting and not bend from your hip or back. This will avoid unnecessary pressure on your spine.

Sleep on one side

While sleeping it is recommended that you sleep on either side and not on your back. Bend one or both your knees while lying on one side. This will help reduce severe back pain during early pregnancy.

Wear shoes wisely

Avoid wearing high heels as this can make you lean forward and put pressure on your spine. However, wearing flat shoes is also not advisable, what you need is a comfortable low-heeled shoe which will adequately spread your weight back and forward and help you walk with an erect back.

About pain medication

During pregnancy, keeping it natural is always recommended as chemical based formulations can often cause more harm than good. Topical balms made of natural ingredients that penetrate deep inside, produce warmth to relax the muscles and help you recover fast, Moov is soothing, effective and most of all, it is safe.

Often just one or two visits to a physical therapist experienced in pre/post-partum treatment who will perform an individual evaluation and recommend a treatment program for you, may provide relief.

Remember, while back pain is fairly common during pregnancy, it should definitely not be accepted as just part of the process.To help make your pregnancy as pleasant as possible and facilitate an easier delivery, back pain symptoms should always be addressed as quickly as possible and managed throughout your pregnancy.

-Dr.Bhavani Sagar. P​

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