Back pain is a common complaint for many women during pregnancy and may occur as early as your first trimester. As your uterus grows, your abdominal muscles stretch out to accommodate your developing baby and belly, and as a result your abdominal muscles become weaker. As your belly enlarges, your center of gravity shifts forward, which puts tremendous stress on your spine. Additionally, there are normal hormonal changes that loosen your ligaments and relax your joints in preparation for the delivery of your baby. All of these factors, not to mention the additional weight you're carrying around, can lead to spinal and pelvic pain as well as tight and achy muscles. 

While lower back and pelvic pain during pregnancy is completely normal and typically no cause for concern, it can be extremely frustrating and distracting, often making is hard for you (and sometimes your partner!) to sleep at night, making your days long and tiring. For some women their back pain may escalate into sciatica (pain that travels into the hip and down your leg). 

During pregnancy, there are very few medical interventions that are considered safe when it comes to dealing with pregnancy related back pain and sciatica symptoms. If your typical response to aches and pains is to grab the bottle of Aleve and go on with your day - that's not happening while baby is on board! That doesn't mean you have to just live with the pain, though. Chiropractors trained in the Webster Technique are competent care providers who know how to safely and effectively treat your pregnancy related back and pelvic pain. 

Dr. Pierce uses not only the Webster Technique to treat pregnancy related back pain, but will also spend time manually treating the tightened muscles around your spine, hips and pelvis causing pain, but educate you on exercises, stretches and daily habits that will help reduce your pain and in many cases eliminate it completely - and naturally. Many patients also benefit from the inclusion of acupuncture and/or trigger point dry needling to treat their back pain during pregnancy. Acupuncture, provided by a qualified provider is safe during pregnancy and can be extremely beneficial for pain and stress relief, pregnancy induced nausea and may help you sleep more soundly. 

Back Pain During Pregnancy?

Lower back pain is a common side effect of pregnancy and affects some women as early as their first trimester. For some, their back pain presents before they even realize they are pregnant!

There are several reasons why your back may hurt while you are pregnant. 

  • Hormones: It goes probably goes without saying that hormonal changes take place during pregnancy! One particular hormone, relaxin, is a major contributor for women experiencing lower back pain during pregnancy. Relaxin, like it's namesake, relaxes or softens the ligaments in the pelvis in order to allow a woman's body to accommodate their growing uterus and prepare them for delivery.  The softening of the pelvic ligaments can lead to back pain because with that ligamentous laxity, there is a great deal of strain placed on the pelvic joints as they are stretched. Some women will feel pain in the lower back, in their pubic bone (front of the pelvis) or even have pain that radiates into their legs. 
  • Biomechanical changes (the way you move) and shifting of your center of gravity: As your pregnancy progresses and your body changes, your center of gravity will shift forward. With that, there is tremendous pressure on your lower back and pelvis. Additionally, the way you perform various tasks may become altered as a result of the way you feel or simply because you can't perform activities the way you usually would because your belly prevents you from doing so! (think tying your shoes or positions you can comfortably sleep in). The methods you adapt to perform daily tasks may put additional stress on your body, leading to pain. 
  • Weight gain: It is obviously normal to gain weight when you are pregnant, however that weight gain can have consequences on the way your body feels. Imagine carrying around a backpack weighed down with an additional 20 or 30 pounds or more. You can't leave the backpack in your car while you run errands or take it off while you sleep at night. The weight gain experienced during pregnancy comes on rather quickly and puts additional pressure on you joints and supporting musculature as well. 

So what can you do about it?

For most of the women who come to my office during pregnancy looking for help with their back pain, the approach is multidimensional. Your body is going to continuously change as your pregnancy progresses, so it's about not only helping you feel better now, but giving you the tools you need to control the severity of your back pain symptoms as your pregnancy progresses.

Chiropractic techniques like the Webster method are aimed at assessing and correcting mis-alignments of the pelvis and it's articulating partners; the spine and hips. The Webster technique involves spinal (sacral) and pelvic adjustments, as well as treatment of the involved soft tissues, namely the gluteal and hip muscles and the round ligaments that suspend your belly as it grows.  

In addition to spinal and pelvic adjustments (joint mobilizations/manipulation) and manual (hands on) soft tissue treatments performed in the office, simple (but important) exercises are recommended that you must perform to strengthen the muscles that stabilize your pelvis and help reduce painful stresses placed on those joints as your body changes to help reduce joint pain due to hypermobility (aka loose joints). 

Most of my pregnant patients experience relief very early on once treatment starts, which is wonderful! For most of my patients, treatments once or twice a week through the duration of their pregnancy help them experience significant reduction, and in some cases, complete elimination of their pain. Every patient's situation is different, so your needs would be based on the severity of your symptoms and response to care. 

Acupuncture and trigger point needling is another safe and effective option for pregnancy related pain I use in conjunction with chiropractic care and physical therapy exercises. 

To find out if the treatments offered at Advanced OC Wellness are right for you, contact us!