Back Pain and Pregnancy: Causes and Relief
Your body undergoes tremendous changes during pregnancy. It’s not just the growing belly, morning sickness and weird food cravings. You may experience pregnancy-related changes to your hair, skin, nails, veins, body temperature and mood. And you might experience back pain pain during pregnancy. What’s going on there?
What causes back pain during pregnancy?
Back pain affects between 50-80% of pregnant women, making it a very common complaint. For some women, it’s an occasional annoyance; for others it’s an ongoing and debilitating condition. Indeed, for about 10% of pregnant women, back pain becomes so severe that it limits their ability to work or perform everyday activities.
Most pregnancy back pain happens low down in your back. Though the pain may be felt in a few ways, it often traces back to your sacroiliac joint (SIJ) where your pelvis and your spine connect or your pubic symphysis where the two halves of your pelvis meet at the front.
Back pain during pregnancy is often caused by:
- The weight of a growing baby, which changes your posture
- A hormone called relaxin which circulates through your body and creates many changes.
Relaxin helps you handle pregnancy and birth by:
- Loosening the ligaments of your pelvis to allow your uterus to grow as your baby does
- Softens and lengthens your cervix
- Relaxes your blood vessels to increase blood flow to your kidneys and the placenta.
Unfortunately for many pregnant women, there are times when relaxin does its job too well.
Those loosened ligaments plus the growing weight of your expanding uterus put extra strain on the joints of your pelvis and lower back leading to back pain.
How to ease back pain during pregnancy?
So, what can you do about it? Nine months with a bad back doesn’t sound appealing! Here are some tips to protect your back and ease back pain during pregnancy.
Protecting your back
You can protect your back and hopefully prevent some back pain by:
- Wearing flat shoes to distribute your weight evenly
- Moving regularly so you’re not in the same position for too long
- Maintaining good posture – try putting a rolled up towel between your lower back and chair or sleeping with a cushion between your knees to relieve stress on your back
- Moving your feet when you turn to avoid twisting your spine
- Getting enough rest.
You may also benefit from a firm mattress, regular gentle exercise like walking or swimming, or a pregnancy massage.
Relieving back pain
Some movements and stretches can help ease a sore back during pregnancy by taking the weight of the baby off your spine for a bit.
Try the cat stretch, a classic yoga pose that helps release tension in your upper back and shoulders. On all fours, gently arch your back, hold and then lower it. Repeat the exercise a few times slowly.
Alternatively, you can try sitting on the floor with your heels under your backside and your knees apart. Lean forwards letting your belly sink into the space between your knees then stretch your arms forward along the ground in front of you.
Other ways to relieve back pain in pregnancy include:
- Talking with your doctor about pain relief options
- Seeing a physiotherapist for personalised advice and support.
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic can help
Physiotherapists have a deep understanding of the human body and its movements, including the changes caused by pregnancy. We’re ideally placed to help you manage pregnancy-related back pain.
We start by listening to you to learn about your daily life, interests and activities and how the back pain affects you. Then we examine you thoroughly and create a personally tailored program to help ease your symptoms and improve your experience of pregnancy, whatever stage you’re at.
Your treatment at The Brisbane Spine Clinic may include:
- Soft tissue massage
- Joint mobilisation
- Exercises to improve your flexibility, mobility and stability
- Education to improve your posture
- Kinesio taping
- Maternity back or hip braces to ease your back pain.
Please make an appointment today for help with pregnancy-related back pain.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.