Back Pain during Pregnancy

About 50-70% of expectant moms experience back pain during some stage of pregnancy. It is more common in the later stages as the fetus grows. some may have lower back pain at the start of pregnancy. Women who are overweight and those who have had back pain prior to pregnancy have an increased risk of developing back pain.  It may interfere with your sleep or daily routine, but can be prevented or managed successfully.

Causes

There are several factors that lead to back pain. Some of the common factors include

  • Pregnancy hormones – increased production of hormones during pregnancy soften the ligaments and loosen up the joints, thus reducing the support to your back.
  • Increased body weight – an additional weight of your body adds extra pressure on your back.
  • Body posture – poor posture and standing for a long duration may aggravate the pain. Poor posture also is a common cause of back pain.
  • Change in center of gravity of body – with growing uterus the center of gravity of the body changes, leading to a change in the posture. This, in turn, leads to extra pressure on the back.
  • Stress – accumulation of stress on the weak areas of the body, especially the back is a common cause of pain in the back.

Prevention

Some of the tips to prevent or minimize back pain during this period include:

  • Talk to your doctor regarding back strengthening exercises that you can perform during pregnancy
  • Avoid high heeled shoes
  • Avoid sleeping on your back
  • Opt for a support belt under the abdomen
  • Get adequate rest
  • Keep your feet in a raised position while resting
  • Avoid bending over to pick up something from the ground, squat instead

Treatment

  • Exercises – pelvic floor and tummy exercises are helpful in reducing the strain on the back. Remember to talk to your doctor before starting a new regimen.
  • Massage – massaging your lower back while leaning forward on a chair or lying on your side also helps to reduce the pain.
  • Good posture – always maintain a good posture to avoid extra pressure on the back.
    Swimming – swimming is a good method to reduce back pain. Again, take your doctor’s advice before starting anything new.
  • Sleep with a pillow under the tummy – This gives support to your growing tummy and back, reducing pain.
  • Acupuncture – Alternative methods like acupuncture is considered to be good in reducing the pain, if performed by an experienced practitioner.
  • Medications – talk to your doctor if you feel that back pain is affecting your daily routine.

When to contact your doctor?

Do contact your doctor if the pain

  • is severe
  • has a sudden onset
  • becomes increasingly severe
  • is rhythmic, cramp-like

Severe back pain may be related to osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or septic arthritis, while cramp-like pain may indicate pre-term labor.

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