Pregnancy can often bring about back pain, neck pain and sciatica – collectively known as the back pain complex. This is because the spine is under a lot of pressure during pregnancy, particularly in the lumbar region. The lumbar curvature is what gives us our upright posture, and it comes under immense pressure during pregnancy. However, this curvature is established after birth, so mothers-to-be can take comfort in knowing that the pain is only temporary.
Back pain is a common symptom during pregnancy, with as many as 80% of pregnant women experiencing neck pain, back pain and/or sciatica. Back pain can range from mild to acute and may become chronic if not properly addressed. There are several reasons why back pain is so prevalent during pregnancy, but there are also a few solutions.
Women who have had back problems in the past are more likely to experience neck pain, back pain, and sciatica during pregnancy. However, all women are at risk for these issues, with symptoms beginning as early as two months into the pregnancy and continuing long after the baby is born. This is due to the high levels of Relaxin hormone produced during pregnancy. Relaxin’s purpose is to soften the ligaments around the pelvis in preparation for childbirth.
Relaxin is important for making it easier for the baby to pass through the birth canal. This is because the baby’s skull is able to pass through more easily. Additionally, as the uterus grows, the weight of the baby starts to shift forward. This change in center of gravity can impact the spine and the surrounding muscles.
Core muscles, including abdominal muscles, spinal muscles, and para-vertebral muscles, often experience tension and soreness beyond what they are structurally accustomed to. The combination of hormonal and SPD (structural factors) often contribute to neck pain, back pain, and sciatica of differing severity.
Obesity is a significant factor in diagnosing and treating back pain, and this is especially true during pregnancy. Normal weight gain during pregnancy can also negatively affect mothers-to-be. An exaggerated spinal curvature (called lordosis) in the lower back, a shift in the center of gravity, additional weight carried forward, and weaker core muscles are all contributory factors.
Back pain during pregnancy is unfortunately quite common, but there are things that can be done to help alleviate the discomfort. Exercises that focus on strengthening the core and other supporting muscles groups can make a big difference. It’s key to work with your doctor or a physical therapist to come up with a program that fits your needs and helps you find relief.
There are two main types of back pain that pregnant women experience: lumbar pain and posterior pelvic pain. Lumbar pain is felt in the lower back, while posterior pelvic pain is similar to sciatica and is felt in the upper level of the pelvis. Both types of pain can be felt on one or both sides of the body.
Posterior pelvic pain is a type of back pain that is common during pregnancy. It can range from mild to severe, and it may get worse as the pregnancy progresses. This type of pain is often caused by activities such as standing for long periods of time, sitting for long periods of time, and poor posture.
Posterior pelvic pain can feel a lot like sciatica. You might feel it as a deep ache, burning sensation, or pain that radiates across your buttocks and into your legs. It might be felt on one side or both, and in its worst state, might also be felt in your feet and toes. The main difference between posterior pelvic pain andsciatica is that posterior pelvic pain is more likely to be felt on both sides.
Neck pain, back pain, and sciatica are all quite common, but that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. If the back pain complex is not addressed properly, it may have negative consequences throughout the pregnancy and felt in virtually every aspect of the new mom’s life. It is not uncommon for women who experience severe back pain throughout the pregnancy to continue to have problems well into the post partum period.
Pregnancy is a special time for both the family and the mother-to-be. However, if back pain is not addressed, it may have a negative impact during and afterwards. In some cases, the pain may last for years after the pregnancy.
As noted above, back pain during pregnancy can have a variety of causes and consequences. An individualized program of exercise and stretching, supervised by a medical professional, is necessary to ease back pain. Some exercises, such as the pelvic tilt and crunches, may be appropriate during early stages of pregnancy.
However, self-treatment programs that focus on exercise may not provide relief or benefit. Additionally, the shift in the center of gravity and the exacerbated lumbar curvature means that a complete program focusing on the core muscles may be the best approach. Improper posture, standing for long periods of time, sitting for long periods, and even remaining inactive for extended periods of time may have a negative impact, ultimately leading to even greater pain.
Pregnant women, especially those who have to work deep into their pregnancy or have other children, should take special care when lifting anything heavy. Because of the number of changes that take place during pregnancy, a program that strengthens the musculature and improves endurance should be initiated as soon as possible. Only through a comprehensive program of treatment and exercise can a prospective mom hope alleviate or eliminate neck pain, back pain, and sciatica.