Learn more about chiropractic prenatal care and the causes of back pain during pregnancy!
What Causes Back Pain During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy women experience many hormonal, physical and physiological changes as the fetus develops and the body prepares for delivery. These changes include:
Anterior shift in the center of mass as the belly grows
Alterations in spinal alignment
Decrease in abdominal muscle strength
Increased joint laxity
Is Lower Back Pain Normal During Pregnancy?
Studies have found that between 50-80% of pregnant women suffer from low back or pelvic pain during their pregnancy. Many women also continue to have recurrent back pain after their pregnancy, which raises concern for the pain to become chronic and more difficult to resolve.
What are the Symptoms of Pregnancy Related Back Pain?
Pain that occurs for more than 1 week during pregnancy
Dull pain into low back, buttocks, back of the thigh, pubic area
Pain worsened by bending forwards
Lumbar spinal muscle pain
Restricted spinal joint motion
What are the Risk Factors for Pregnancy Related Low Back Pain?
History of previous low back pain
Advanced gestational age
History of trauma to the back or pelvic prior to pregnancy
Physically demanding occupations
High levels of stress
Low levels of physical activity
What are the Risk Factors for Low Back Pain after Pregnancy?
Approximately 40% of women continue to experience pain or disability at 6 months post-partum. 30% at 12 months and close to 10% at 24 months. Risk factors for low back pain becoming chronic after pregnancy include the following:
Studies have found that spinal manipulation is associated with improved outcomes in pregnancy related back pain. Pregnant patients undergoing chiropractic treatment report clinically relevant improvement in pain management and function. Establishing pelvic and lumbar spine alignment through various manipulation and mobilization techniques can help to maintain a healthier pregnancy, reduce back, neck and joint pain and improve overall function during pregnancy. If you are nervous about spinal manipulation (traditional hands-on techniques that often produce an audible pop or crack), the chiropractors at mountain health and performance can provide alternative techniques to reduce joint pain and improve function. Mobilization is a slow and gentle stretching of the joints that can help to reduce pain and improve range of motion and joint health. We also utilize activator technique which, is another alternative to traditional spinal manipulation. The activator is a small, hand-held instrument that delivers a gentle impulse force to the spine. This technique allows the chiropractors to improve joint motion and decrease pain for anyone who is nervous about traditional techniques and or who can’t be placed in the position for a hands on adjustment.
Is Spinal Manipulation Safe During Pregnancy?
There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. Chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant and use techniques that avoid unneeded pressure on the abdomen. As discussed above we also can use many alternative treatments to treat the spine the patient is uncomfortable or the chiropractors believe spinal manipulation is not indicated for a particular patient.
Yoga for Pregnancy:
Some studies have found that various types of yoga (alignment based, mediation focused) found statistically significant improvement in pain over an 8-week period. Improvements were seen in: physical function, mental health, vitality and social function. Pregnancy can be a stressful time physically and mentally for women and yoga can help to relax the body and mind. Dr. Amy Wiggins is trained in Hatha yoga and can provide her patients with yoga-based stretches, exercises and breathing techniques that are appropriate for all stages of pregnancy. She also does at-home yoga sessions (by request) if you feel that you need one on one care. Dr. Amy can incorporate elements of treatment that are appropriate for the patient including: spinal mobilization, stretching, myofascial release (massage & stretching) into the yoga sessions as well.
Exercise During Pregnancy:
Many studies have found that increased physical activity decreases pregnancy related low back pain. Women who exercised 3+ times per week during pregnancy were less likely to experience pelvic girdle pain and symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Studies have also found that exercise combined with manual therapy and education is superior to exercise alone. Appropriate exercise during pregnancy may include: walking, light weights, pilates, yoga, stabilization exercises and more. Check in with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Physical activity during pregnancy can help prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy, post pregnancy weight retention, gestational diabetes, and pregnancy related pain. It can also decrease physical discomfort and complications during labour and birth. Exercise is a great way to improve self image and lead to fewer depressive symptoms during pregnancy.
Prenatal Chiropractic care includes Kinesiotape:
Kinesiology tape is a drug-free, safe alternative, that can help relieve many pregnancy symptoms including back pain, swollen feet, sciatica, carpal tunnel, and other aches and pains. Because of this, it is an ideal option for expectant mothers seeking relief from the ailments associated with pregnancy. Made from cotton with an acrylic adhesive, k-tape is almost identical to skin in thinness and elasticity, allowing it to interact easily with the human body. The natural elasticity of the tape gently lifts the skin, allowing excess fluid to drain away and relieving pressure on pain receptors. It can be applied anywhere there is pain, swelling, spasm or weakness. When applied correctly, it begins working immediately and can continue to provide relief 24/7 for 3-5 days per application.
Kinesiology tape is completely comfortable to wear and is also water resistant, so expectant mothers can wear it while showering, swimming or even exercising. For most pregnant women, the ability to get continuous relief for several days can be a godsend. Being uncomfortable or in pain while pregnant can make sleeping difficult, and because kinesiology tape can be worn while sleeping, it can help provide much needed rest. And unlike pregnancy belts, which can be restrictive, uncomfortable and costly, kinesiology tape can offer similar support, while still allowing full range of motion at a much more economical price.
Prenatal Chiropractic Care includes Myofascial Release Therapy:
Myofascial release is a soft tissue system/movement based massage technique, utilized by our chiropractors, that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Like massage it is a safe technique to utilize during pregnancy to deal with pregnancy related pain, tension, alignment and swelling. Myofascial release focuses on releasing tension in the muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia. It can help to: