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July 17, 2019  
UTERINE NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Back Pain and Pregnancy: A Problematic Pairing

    Back Pain and Pregnancy: How to Weather a Problematic Pairing

    May 09, 2005

    By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Uterus1

    According to most experts, roughly half of all pregnant women will suffer some form of lower back pain during pregnancy. Not only that, but the pain may begin before the third month of pregnancy and continue until as late as six months after a woman gives birth, adding chronic pain to the stresses of new parenthood. With statistics like these, back pain for pregnant women is a problem that demands some serious attention from health care providers and better information for the many who will suffer this condition.
    Take Action
    Tips to Tackle Back Pain:

    1. Evaluate and improve your posture

    2. Change sitting and standing patterns

    3. Give high-heeled shoes the boot

    4. Use heat and ice as well as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) to relieve pain

    5. Exercise (as approved by your doctor) can also help

    Back pain during pregnancy can be divided into three main categories: Lumbar, sacroiliac and nocturnal. Depending on what type of pain a woman suffers from, doctors and patients should cooperate to decide on an appropriate treatment.

    Lumbar back pain is usually caused by pregnancy-related posture changes, resulting from the modifications to posture women make to support the redistribution of weight due to pregnancy – their center of gravity changes, and so also do the stress points on the back muscles. Also, as pregnancy progresses, a hormone known as relaxin increases to 10 times its normal levels in the body. This hormone is responsible for allowing the pelvis to expand so that the baby can be safely delivered, but also allows for “joint laxity” or looseness, in other parts of the body, such as the spine. This, also, can lead to back pain.

    Sacroiliac pain occurs when changes in the pelvic structure that occur to accommodate delivery subject the back to additional stress and displacement, as a result of the changing position of the pelvic structures. Combined with the increased joint laxity seen during pregnancy, this means that the sacroiliac joints are especially prone to movement, which can in turn stretch sensitive ligaments and nerve structures in the area.

    Nocturnal back pain may be a result of stress accumulated during the day being expressed in the back once the body is at rest, or it may result from circulatory changes that put stress on muscles and nerves in the area. Sometimes the pressure of the developing fetus on the spine alone is enough to cause pain, especially when women favor lying face up to sleep.

    Changes in posture, with or without supportive garments such as a “belly bra” or lower back support brace, may help to reduce daytime lumbar pain. Also, examining and changing sitting and standing practices during the day, such as at work or while eating or walking around, and improving workspaces, postural habits such as refraining from wearing high-heeled shoes, or incorporating simple exercises into daily routines may help. Heat and ice application, as well as the use of over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) can also reduce pain levels. Also, pregnant women who get at least 45 minutes of exercise per week seem to be less likely to develop back pain during the course of their pregnancies.

    Whatever the cause, chances are that women who have back pain during their pregnancies will experience some improvement after a consultation with their doctor. Though the causes and treatments may vary, being clear about symptoms and cooperating with health care givers to decide on the right manner of treatment is the best way for pregnant sufferers of back pain to start on the road to relief.

    Last updated: 09-May-05


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