By Dr. Anita Sharma Last Updated:
Back pain or rather discomfort is common during pregnancy. It occurs in about 50-80% of pregnant women and should be expected to some degree by most expecting moms. However, it still deserves attention and sometimes maybe a cause of concern.
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During a healthy pregnancy, women typically gain between 10-12 kilos, which is supported by the spine. The weight of the growing baby and uterus put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back, giving rise to pain in an already overloaded spine.
Back pain that is felt early in pregnancy is resulted from hormonal changes, which allow ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and loosing the joints. It also loosens the ligaments that support spine, which leads to instability and pain.
Pregnancy back pain usually occurs where the pelvis meets your spine at the sacroiliac joint. However, pain maybe felt anywhere in the spine when postural adjustments are made to accommodate mechanical changes, which take place during pregnancy.
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Weak abdominal muscles that separate as the uterus expands are known to cause back pain during pregnancy. Emotional stress can cause muscle tension in the back, which may be felt as back pain or back spasms.
Most back pains that have come up during pregnancy will subside soon after you give birth. Simple measures and precautions taken from the very beginning will prevent and relieve milder forms of back pain.
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Regular exercises like walking and swimming or exercise program designed for pregnancy will prepare your muscles for the extra load your spine will have to carry as you advance in pregnancy. You should consult a physiotherapist for specific exercises in case of pain.
Improve your posture and avoid slouching. Adopt good posture when working, sitting, sleeping and specially, when getting in and out of bed. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between the knees takes the load off your spine. Always sit far back in a chair and rest your feet on a stack of books or stool and sit up straight with your shoulders back. (Don't Miss: C-Section Pregnancy Guide: Who Needs It, Procedure, Complications And Delivery Side Effects)
Try hot and cold compresses to relieve your pain. Wearing a support belt may also help. Else, you can also go for acupuncture/pressure, reflexology and local application of pain relief ointments that are safe to use during pregnancy.
Counselling or any form of stress buster will help those where emotional factor and stress are causing muscle strain. Mobilisation and manipulation when performed correctly by a physical therapist can relieve acute back pain safely during pregnancy.
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However, there could be other underlying issues which may have pre-existed or come up during pregnancy, like osteoporosis, vertebral arthritis, and septic arthritis. Sometimes back pain with severe cramps could also be signs of preterm labour. Hence, severe back pain, which is increasing or is accompanied by fever or cramps must be addressed by a doctor.