All about Pregnancy Back Pain: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

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All about Pregnancy Back Pain: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

March 21, 2016

Written by: Ella James

Most women (50% according to studies) will experience back pain during their pregnancy, usually located in their lower backs. The pain, called lower back pain (LBP), usually happens between the 20th and 28th week of pregnancy and is divided into pelvic girdle pain or lumbar pain depending on the location. Physical and hormonal changes are causes of LBP in pregnancy. Treatment options depend on the causes of the pain. There are also preventive measures, although sometimes it is hard to avoid developing LBP. LBP will usually disappear after giving birth, but in some cases might continue long after delivery.

All about Pregnancy Back Pain_ Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Causes

Some women experience LBP in their first trimester due to hormonal changes. The body releases the hormone relaxin that loosens ligaments which can lead to LBP. However, in most cases the pain happens in the second or third trimester and is caused by weight gain. The added weight puts pressure on the lower back and pelvis. Also, the abdominal muscles stretch and separate, limiting their functionality and causing more strain on the back. To add up, the body’s gravity center shifts forward, another contributing factor to the increased stress on the lower back. If a woman is experiencing LBP at night, then the reason might be pressure on the vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart. In rare cases (1%) sciatica might be the cause of LBP, a rare condition in pregnancy where back discs put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Women who had LBP before their pregnancy will most likely also experience it during their pregnancy. Being overweight also increases the likelihood of developing LBP during pregnancy.

Treatment

LBP will disappear within the first few months after delivery; until then, there are some things you can do to mitigate the pain.

• Exercising
Being physically active in the later months of pregnancy will help you ease LBP. Going for walks or doing pregnancy exercises will keep your back and central muscles strong and give your spine support. A good way to strengthen back muscles while pregnant is by swimming due to the body being lighter to carry in water.

• Sleeping on the side
Avoid sleeping on your back in the third trimester in order to avoid putting pressure on your back. Sleeping on your side, with a pillow between your knees, is sure to give you a painless good night’s sleep.

• Maintaining a good posture
Exercising will help you keep a reasonably good posture in later pregnancy, but slouching can be tempting when you’re carrying all that extra weight. Make sure to avoid slouching when sitting or standing. Keeping a good posture will improve any pain you might be experiencing. Also, try to avoid bending your back and instead squat when you need to pick something up.

• Acupuncture
Some studies suggest that acupuncture is effective in treating LBP in pregnancy. It is a traditional Chinese medicine which involves inserting tiny needles into certain points on your skin. The explanation is that the needles are strategically placed in meridian points in the body through which the life force, called chi, flows. A western explanation is that acupuncture stimulates the release of body’s painkillers.

• Hot and cold compresses
For the first few days, apply cold compresses on your lower back to reduce any muscle swelling. After that, switch to hot compresses to increase blood flow to the painful area and to help relax the muscles.

Prevention

An important part of preventing LBP is being informed about it. Education involves learning the correct posture that can be enhanced with proper exercising. Studies claimed that a 12-week exercise program is highly effective in preventing LBP by the 36th week of pregnancy. Being fit before becoming pregnant also decreases the risk of experiencing LBP during pregnancy. Good physical habits and maintaining a healthy posture will be effective in avoiding excess discomfort in pregnancy.

Pregnancy Backpain

Conclusion:

LBP is considered a normal pregnancy discomfort that is hard to avoid, especially considering the dramatic pressure the back goes through during pregnancy. It is a harmless occurrence and if it does not affect daily activities, there is no need for worry. If, however, your pain prevents you from performing everyday chores, consult your physician to make sure it is not caused by serious issues. Usually, your back muscles, spine and pelvis will manage to recover soon after delivery, but if you’ve by any chance gained too much weight, there is a chance you might experience postpartum LBP. If you also happen to develop postpartum depression, then the prognosis for LBP is even worse since depressed women find it hard to be physically active. Postpartum depression is very common. If you happen to suffer from it, make sure to inform your GP to help you recover as soon as possible.

Author Bio:

Ella James is an aspiring author who is pursuing Health Services Administration degree from St. Petersburg College. She is an active contributor to Consumer Health Digest, which is a leading Health News Website. Her interests include reading and writing about Health, Fitness and Weight Loss News. Get connected with her on Facebook and Twitter

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