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June 16, 2019  
UTERINE NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Back Pain and Pregnancy

    Back Pain and Pregnancy


    June 18, 2007

    By: Catherine Yeh for Uterus1

    Back pain is very common during pregnancy. After all, pregnant women are carrying up to eight pounds in their belly. This pain can negatively impact a woman’s daily lifestyle and even make delivery more difficult, if not targeted and treated before it’s too late.
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    A few ideas to help take the pain away:
  • Stretch daily
  • Try water aerobic exercises
  • Use an Ozzlo pillow under your abdomen when lying down
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Today, doctors believe exercise and acupuncture are keys to relieving back pain during pregnancy. In May 2007, The Cochrane Library published a review of eight studies involving 1,305 pregnant women from Sweden, Iran, Brazil, Thailand and Australia. Researchers studied the effect of pregnancy-specific interventions, and compared results to those from women undergoing standard prenatal care.

    “We were able to group trials about women who had back pain alone, women who had pelvic pain alone, and women who had both. You don’t have that luxury when you have only three studies,” said registered nurse and lead review author, Victoria Pennick, M.H.Sc. This review contains more generalizable data than past reviews, as the earlier reviews only looked at a small number of studies.

    Women who participated in exercise programs during pregnancy reported a significant decrease in back pain as compared to women who received regular prenatal care. The exercise programs emphasized the importance of stretching the pelvic muscles, strengthening the abdominal and hamstring muscles, and increasing spinal flexibility. Moms-to-be also used an Ozzlo pillow, a special pillow with curves and a soft cushion that supports the abdomen when lying down. Their back pain was alleviated as a result.

    “When you’re pregnant, your center of gravity is off. You have to arch your back to balance this huge tummy, so you end up with extra strain on your back and pelvic muscles,” said Pennick. To help relieve back pain and pelvic pain caused by pregnancy, acupuncture intervention programs were also tested and reviewed. Sixty percent of women who received this treatment had less intense pain, compared to the 14 percent who did not have the acupuncture.

    Overall, the review found that women who followed through with exercises, special pillows and acupuncture were less in need of pain medications, physical therapy and posture-support belts. Although these studies yielded positive results, researchers believe there is still more to learn. Pennick questions why some of the women in these studies did not follow through with their intervention programs. “Given the level of scientific rigor by which these studies were done, you have to be cautious,” she said. Future research is needed to provide more generalizable information for pregnant women with back pain.

    Pregnant women experiencing physical pain should consult their physician before starting any intervention. “For example, if you’ve never had acupuncture, it may not be the intervention of choice for you. It’s really important to talk it over with your own primary care provider and decide together what’s right for you,” said Pennick.

    Although back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy, women should not write it off. Work with your physician to find a way to prevent the pain before it interferes with your daily life, and don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion if you are not satisfied.

    Last updated: 18-Jun-07

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