Pregnancy Back Pain
How To Manage Pregnancy Back Pain
The good news is, your baby is growing, which is what should be happening, but it can still be tough on your back. You’ve got lots of company – many pregnant women experience back pain, usually starting in the second half of pregnancy.
You should know that there are things you can do to minimise your back pain.
Causes Of Back Pain In Pregnant Women
Pregnancy back pain typically happens where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint or SIJ, in the lumbar spine or at the joint between the two halves of the pelvic rim known as the pubic symphysis.
There are many possible reasons why it happens. Here are some of the more likely causes:
During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and thus the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. The same hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain, particularly if before pregnancy, you had some weakness of the muscles supporting this region.
As the uterus expands, two parallel sheets of muscles (the rectus abdominis muscles or six-pack muscles), which run from the rib cage to the pubic bone, may separate along the centre seam. This separation may worsen back pain.
During a healthy pregnancy, women typically gain weight. The spine has to support that weight. That can cause lower back pain. The weight of the growing foetus and uterus also puts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back.
Pregnancy shifts your centre of gravity. As a result, you may gradually – even without noticing – adjust your posture and the way you move. This postural change may result in back pain or strain.
Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back, expressing itself as back pain or back spasms. You may find that you experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.
Treatments For Back Pain In Pregnancy
There is good news! Unless you had chronic backaches before you got pregnant, your pain would likely ease gradually before giving birth.
Meanwhile, there are many things you can do to treat low back pain or make it rarer and milder:
Improve Your Posture
Slouching strains your spine. So using proper posture when working, sitting, or sleeping is a good move. For example, sleeping on your side with a pillow between the knees will take the stress off your back. When sitting at a desk, place a rolled-up towel behind your back for support; rest your feet on a stack of books or stool and sit up straight, with your shoulders back.
Wearing a support belt may also help. Your physiotherapist is the best person to advise you if this is likely to be beneficial for you.
Your physiotherapist is an expert when it comes to assessing and managing your pregnancy-related back pain. After a thorough assessment, there is a lot that physiotherapists can do to help you with your pregnancy-related back pain. In most cases, they can help you with improving your joint position and control.
Your physiotherapist will devise a specialised program tailored to your needs and the stage of your pregnancy.
Physiotherapy treatment may include any of the following, depending on your specific needs:
- Joint Mobilisation
- Kinesio Taping
- Heat or Ice
- Joint mobility and stability exercises
- Posture education
- Pregnancy support prescription
- Yoga or pilates based exercises.
Regular general exercise strengthens muscles and boosts flexibility – which may ease the stress on your spine.
Safe exercises for most pregnant women include:
- Stationary Cycling
It is best to discuss your pre-pregnancy and current exercise regime with your physiotherapist, who can recommend the best exercises for your needs to strengthen your back and abdomen.
Some women benefit from a supportive maternity back brace specially designed for pregnant women. Ask your physiotherapist if one would be suitable for you.
More details are available here: Maternity Belt
Heat and Cold
Applying heat and cold to your back may help. Be careful not to apply heat to your abdomen during pregnancy.
Common Lower Back Pain Causes
The following conditions may cause lower back pain.
- Back Cramps
- Back Muscle Pain
- Core Stability Deficiency
- DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Side Strain
- Back Stress Fracture
- Scheuermann's Disease
- Spinal Stenosis
- Stress Fracture Spine (Cricket Bowlers)
Back Joint Injuries
Youth Spinal Pain
Teenager Neck & Back Pain
Teenagers can be particularly vulnerable to back pain, mainly due to a combination of high flexibility and low muscle strength and posture control.
The competitive athlete and most individuals who exercise regularly or maintain fitness and core stability control are less prone to spine injury and problems due to the strength and flexibility of supporting structures. Luckily, issues involving the lower lumbar spine are rare in athletes and account for less than 10% of sports-related injuries. Injuries do occur in contact sports and with repetitive strain sports. Your physiotherapist can assist in the resolution of any deficits in this area.
Sports such as gymnastics, cricket fast bowlers, and tennis have a higher incidence of associated lumbar spine problems related to repetitive twisting and hyper-bending motions.
Spondylolisthesis is a significant concern and needs to be appropriately treated by a physiotherapist with a particular interest in these types of injuries. Luckily, most injuries are minor, self-limited, and respond quickly to physiotherapy treatment.
Common Adolescent Spinal Injuries
Lower Back (Lumbar Spine)
Midback (Thoracic Spine)
Neck (Cervical Spine)
For specific advice regarding youth neck or back pain, please seek the professional advice of your trusted spinal physiotherapist or doctor.
Nerve pain is pain caused by damage or disease that affects the nervous system of the body. It is also known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia. Nerve pain is a pain that comes from problems with signals from the nerves. It is different to the typical type of pain that is due to an injury. It is known as nociceptive pain.
What Causes Nerve Pain?
A problem with your nerves themselves, which sends pain messages to the brain, causes neuropathic pain.
What Are Nerve Pain Symptoms?
Nerve pain is often described as burning, stabbing, shooting, aching, or like an electric shock.
What Causes Nerve Pain?
Various conditions can affect your nerves and cause nerve pain. Familiar sources of nerve pain include:
- Shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia).
- Trigeminal neuralgia.
- Diabetic neuropathy.
- Phantom limb pain (post-amputation).
- Multiple sclerosis.
- HIV infection.
- Other nerve disorders.
Nerve Pain & Nociceptive Pain
You can suffer both nerve pain and nociceptive pain simultaneously. The same condition can cause both pain types.
Nerve Pain Treatment
Nerve pain is less likely than nociceptive pain to be helped by traditional painkillers. Paracetamol and anti-inflammatories seem less effective. However, other types of medicines often work well to ease the pain. Nerve pain is often relieved by anti-depressant or anti-epileptic medication. Please ask your doctor for more advice.
What Causes Pins & Needles?
What is Paraesthesia?
A moderately pinched nerve is the most common cause of "pins and needles". Pins and needles are referred to as "paraesthesia" in the medical community. Did you know that feeling "pins and needles" can be a worse sign than having pain in your arm or leg? The reason is that you can't even feel pain anymore when you significantly squash the nerve.
Even worse than "pins and needles" are "numbness" or "anaesthesia", which is a total lack of sensation. You will experience anaesthesia when there is severe nerve compression. Anaesthesia or numbness that persists for more than a few hours can signify permanent nerve compression. Please seek prompt medical attention to prevent the nerve from permanent damage and the muscles it innervates to weaken drastically.
The majority of pinched nerves and nerve compressions are only transient and quickly reversed with early treatment. However, neglect can lead to permanent nerve compression injuries, which may never recover.
Common Causes of Pinched Nerves
The most common forms of nerve compression are in the spinal joints, where either a disc bulge or a bony arthritic spur can irritate and compress the nerve. Compressions can also occur as the nerve passes through or around muscles. Your physiotherapist will know where to look.
How Can You Fix "Pins and Needles"?
If you know of someone who is experiencing chronic or permanent "pins and needles", "numbness", or "muscle weakness", please encourage them to seek urgent professional advice. The secret to quick success is the correct diagnosis. A highly trained health practitioner such as your physiotherapist or doctor is your best port of call.