Pregnancy Back Pain

Pregnancy Back Pain

Article by Zoe Russell

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:

Hormone Changes

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.

Muscle Separation

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.

Weight Gain

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.

Posture Changes

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.

Stress

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.

Physiotherapy

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:

  • Massage
  • Joint Mobilisation
  • Kinesio Taping
  • Heat or Ice
  • Joint mobility and stability exercises
  • Posture education
  • Pregnancy support prescription
  • Yoga or pilates based exercises.

Exercise

Regular general exercise strengthens muscles and boosts flexibility – which may ease the stress on your spine.

Safe exercises for most pregnant women include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • 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.

Maternity Belt

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.

Article by J.Miller, Z.Russell

Article by John Miller

Youth Spinal Pain

Teenager Neck & Back Pain

teenager 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)

Pelvis

For specific advice regarding youth neck or back pain, please seek the professional advice of your trusted spinal physiotherapist or doctor.

Common Youth & Teenager Sports Injuries

Common Youth Leg Injuries

Common Youth Arm Injuries

Article by John Miller

Is Your Back Pain Serious?

What Can Cause Severe Low Back Pain?

A sudden injury most often causes acute low back pain. The most common injury sources are the muscles and ligaments supporting the back. The pain may be caused by muscle spasms or a strain or tear in the muscles and ligaments. But occasionally, it can have a more sinister cause.

Warning Signs of a More Serious Back Injury?

In these instances of neurological deficit, please urgently consult your nearest hospital, doctor or physiotherapist. The following neurological signs warrant prompt assessment:

  • pins and needles (paraesthesia),
  • numbness (anaesthesia),
  • leg muscle weakness,
  • altered reflexes,
  • difficulty walking,
  • loss of control of bladder or bowels.

Non-Musculoskeletal Causes of Low Back Pain

Although most low back pain is musculoskeletal in origin, other health conditions can cause low back pain.

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Infection of the spine (osteomyelitis, discitis)
  • Kidney infection or kidney stones
  • Spondyloarthropathies: e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis.
  • Female reproductive organs: e.g. pregnancy complications, ovarian cysts or cancer, endometriosis

Please seek the professional advice of your trusted and experienced healthcare practitioner to diagnose the cause of your lower back pain.

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