Pregnancy and back pain seem to go hand-in-hand, with up to two-thirds of pregnant women experiencing back pain. Although back pain may increase through pregnancy, this condition is more common among women with preexisting back pain, older maternal age, back pain in previous pregnancies, and multiparity.
Back pain is generally due to a change in posture, muscle weakness, joint laxity, or facet joint irritation, which all could be altered by pregnancy. Spondylolisthesis, or a spinal disorder where the lumbar vertebrae slips forward on the vertebrae below, may also be aggravated by pregnancy. Fortunately, a disc herniation is rare during pregnancy.
In most cases, the exact cause of back pain is not entirely determined, since laboratory tests are not useful, and imaging tests frequently do not show any abnormality, aside from normal changes of pregnancy.
Most treatments for back pain during pregnancy are symptomatic. Periods of rest with hip flexion may reverse the lordosis or the curving of the lower back, temporarily decreasing back pain. Exercise, support belts, water therapy, acupuncture, and physiotherapy may all be useful in helping ease back pain for pregnant women. Back exercises can also contribute to strengthening the trunk muscles for a more stabilized, supported spine. Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen the core to help support the back during pregnancy.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, here are a few ways to ease back pain during pregnancy :
- Wear low-heeled shoes with quality arch support
- Avoid lifting heavy objects
- Sit in chairs with good back support, or use a small pillow to provide support
- Sleep on your side with pillows between the knees
- Apply heat or cold, and massage the painful area(s)
Fortunately, approximately 80 to 95 percent of women who experience back pain during pregnancy find relief in their symptoms postpartum. So, if you are experiencing consistent back pain, rest and therapeutic methods are the best ways to help back pain throughout pregnancy.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!