How pregnancy can affect back pain
As if they haven’t got enough on their plate, lots of pregnant women and new mums also experience pain in the lower back and hips associated with the sacroiliac joint (where the pelvis meets the spine). Or/and pain in the pubic joint at the front of the pelvis (PSD, often called pubic symphsis disorder).
The onset of this pain is usually towards the end of pregnancy when the hormone relaxin is released into the body to help the ligaments (the tough, flexible tissues that connect your bones) to relax and soften in preparation for childbirth. It all happens for a good reason, as the softened ligaments help make passing your child through your pelvis easier during birth, but there is a downside. Normally when you lie down, stand up or walk your pelvis is held by a combination of muscles and ligaments. If it moves more when the ligaments relax, this can potentially causing irritated joints, soft tissues and pain.
In addition to all this, your growing bump causes an alteration in your centre of gravity, changing your posture and altering your gait, all of which puts more stress on your joints and potentially decreases the stability of your back and hips. Not the best when you have a job to go to, other children to look after and a house to run.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain (SIJ), also known as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), is experienced by lots of mums-to-be and new mums, so you are not alone and you don’t need to suffer. The good news is that, if you didn’t suffer from back pain before you got pregnant, it is very likely the pain will dissipate over time. But in the meantime, there are things you can do to help.
Your pain can be dealt with in various ways, one of which is to improve the stability of your pelvis with our back Sacroiliac Belt. It both supports and compresses the sacroiliac joints to reduce pain in the lower back, buttocks and pubis. In addition to wearing our Sacroiliac Belt, you could also try taking regular exercise, such a swimming, to strengthen your muscles. Exercises for the bottom muscles and pelvic floor muscles especially will help – ask your midwife or GP to recommend some.
It would be also very helpful to improve your posture when sitting, walking and sleeping. Slouching strains your spine so, while it can be difficult with a growing bump at the front, try to be mindful of keeping your back in a neutral alignment. Don’t let your pelvis tip forwards and allow your lower back arch to increase.
When you’re sitting at your desk, have your feet flat on the floor, with the knees at right angles, and your computer keyboard close so you sit with your back straight. Put a rolled up towel or cushion in the small of your back if you feel you’re not sitting straight enough. When you’re sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your knees to take the stress off your back.
Heat and cold are also great pain relievers. A simple ice massage has been known to alleviate back pain and it is quick and easy to do. Put ice on the affected area of your back to reduce inflammation and so ease discomfort. After two or three days switch to gentle heat, but be careful not to apply heat to your abdomen, a bath or shower will do.
Here are the Expert Views on How Pregnancy Can Affect Back Pain
1. Cynthia Halow | Founder of Personality Max says,Like most mothers, I dealt with a lot of back pain while I was pregnant. Here are some things that worked for me.
- Prenatal yoga
- Daily meditation
- Daily evening walks
- Wear only flat shoes
- Practice good posture
- Sleep on your side and not your back
- Wear a maternity belt
2. Sarah Stromsdorfer | Occupational Therapist and Founder of My OT Spot says,I am also six months pregnant and have been doing a lot of work to prevent my own back pain. Because preventing back pain has been a huge part of my pregnancy, I would love to share my insight for your upcoming Back Pain Help article. As someone who experienced back pain before pregnancy due to an old injury and my physical job handling patients, I knew that starting a core strengthening program during my first trimester would be crucial.
With the help of my spine PT, pain doctor, and my pelvic floor PT, we found the best exercises for any pregnant woman in all trimesters include squats, modified (on knees) planks, the "bird dog," and pelvic tilts to keep the core strong throughout the pregnancy. A strong core and strong glutes keep the spine stable and prevent back strain and pain. This has kept me pain-free throughout my pregnancy.
One modality that can provide almost immediate relief is supplementing with magnesium (once approved by OB) since prenatal vitamins do not include this but it is a supplement that is needed for women's muscles during pregnancy, especially since the baby takes magnesium from the mother in the womb. Without enough magnesium, pregnant women can experience a lot more muscle tightness and spasms, and starting this supplement really helped my back and leg cramps at night.
3. Eli Bliliuos Position | Certified Hypnotist at NYC Hypnosis Center says,"Despite substantial variation in techniques among the numerous reports, patients treated with hypnosis experienced substantial benefits for many different medical conditions." Mayo Clinic Pain management hypnosis has been proven to work on reducing the pain that a person experiences.
The painkillers that reside in your body are responsible for this. These natural pain killers are endorphins. Pain management hypnosis can access this natural morphine in your body and train your mind to access and activate the appropriate neurotransmitter to reduce the pain that you feel.
The pituitary gland and the hypothalamus produce endorphins naturally during activities such as exercise (the so-called runner’s high is an example), being in love which can produce a bit of an adrenaline rush, as well as experiencing an orgasm. Like real morphine, endorphins produce good feelings, blocking out the negative feelings; in this case, pain. Your nerve endings send messages to your spinothalamic tract.
These nerve endings receive their messages from sensations that affect your body. The sensations activate the nerve endings which then transmit the messages to the spinothalamic tract, a pathway through your spinal cord. The spinal cord is also called white matter. In the white matter, there are fibers that then transmit the message to your neurons which transmit the information to your thalamus. There are four main categories of messages — pain, itch, touch and temperature. Have you ever hurt yourself and felt that initial numbness before the pain kicks in? The delay between the painful hit and the sensation of pain is due to endorphins. As the nerve endings send their messages to your spinal cord, your body releases endorphins that slow down the next transmission of the pain signal to your thalamus. Relieving pain hypnosis raises your level of endorphins.
You can see how the pain message is intercepted in your spinal cord by the increased level of endorphins and the overall pain sensation is mitigated by your body’s natural morphine. Coupled with this natural relief from pain are the messages that relieve pain hypnosis sends to your subconscious. So as well as the natural physical relief from pain, your subconscious is diminishing your mental reaction to pain.
Both the mind and the body are working together to manage pain. As your body actually feels less pain, your mind picks up on the cessation of intense pain and begins to embrace the inner positive messages. Hypnosis is a natural state that we experience each day. Daydreaming is a light trance state.
Losing track of time when you are focused on a project is another. Clients experience formal hypnosis by following the direction of a hypnotist who will use a combination of guided imagery, confusion, deep breathing, overload, and body relaxation techniques. Contrary to popular belief, the client does not relinquish control and is aware and awake.
4. Brooke Cavalla | Blogger of Struggles of a Fit Mom says,After 4 babies in 6 years, back pain during pregnancy is something that I am very familiar with!
One of the most common and underrated reasons for back pain during pregnancy is lack of core strength. Many moms fear core exercises during pregnancy when in reality, the core is one of the most important body parts to strengthen during pregnancy.
As pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the growing baby. This weakens the abdominal muscles and fascial connections which can result in poor core strength and function. The forward shift or pull from the growing baby compromises posture and results in a lot of back pain.
During pregnancy, we need our core muscles to be strong and act like a built-in support band to relieve pain. Prenatal safe core strengthening exercises can help keep the core muscles strong and functional to better support this extra weight and relieve back pain.
5. Elliana Rose | Practicing Medical Doctor at Audiology Research says,To get relief from back pain during pregnancy do the following:
*practice good posture-as your baby grows, your center of gravity shifts forward. To avoid falling forward, a lot of women tend to lean back which puts pressure on your spleen. Try standing up straight, keeping shoulders relaxed and straight and do not knock your knees.
*lift properly-when lifting something, squat and life. Do not bend with your waist and do not carry with your back. Also, for the "miss independent" It is nice to ask for help.
*physical activity-try walking or look for a physical therapist to show you some gentle stretches.
*using a heating pad or an ice pack and massage on your back might help with relief.
*wear low heeled shoes and NOT FLAT. Something with a good arch support
*sleep on your side. Use a pregnancy pillow between your knees and under your back.
For instant relief for normal back pain take acetaminophen(tylenol) and avoid ibuprofen and any other NSAIDs. If your pain is severe or lasts for more than two weeks, pain that is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, fever during urination, see a doctor because it may be a sign of preterm labor or UTI.
6. Shakir Malik | Owner of The Life Hype says,Pregnancy can cause back pain. As your baby grows, your spine will also adjust, mainly because of the weight of the child. Tips to prevent or reduce pregnancy back pain:
- Use pillows to support your growing tummy.
- Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support.
- Get plenty of exercise, especially prenatal yoga or swimming.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects.
- When possible, sleep on your side rather than your stomach or back.
- If you experience numbness in your legs, which is likely due to low blood flow, elevate them when sitting or lying down.
- Relax with deep breathing and visualization exercises (e.g., imagine your muscles relaxing).
- To prevent straining your back muscles, look forward while sneezing or coughing.
- Use a maternity support belt. The support belt can help you to support your growing belly and relieve some of the strain on your back.
- Use a hot or cool compress. The use of hot and cold compresses can be very helpful in such cases, but not simultaneously.An ice pack helps to reduce the inflammation and get rid of pain. Put it on your back for about 15-20 minutes. Afterward, a hot compress should be applied to ease muscle tension.
- Wedge pillows can help align your spine and relieve some of the pressure on your back. They are also available for side sleepers and back sleepers. Make sure you select a wedge pillow that fits your sleeping position.
Be careful at all times and do not push through the pain. If it hurts, don’t do it. And if anything worries you, see your GP.