Backache During Pregnancy
Why do pregnant women get back pain?
Among all the symptoms of pregnancy, backache brings restrictions on the overall activity of a pregnant woman. Back pain is tremendously distressing and has an emotional effect on the pregnant woman as well.
Backache is unavoidable in 50% cases of pregnancy due to the various changes that occur in the body to adapt to the growing foetus. Very few women experience no back pain during pregnancy.
In most cases, back pain presents in the form of low back pain. Two forms of low back pain are commonly seen in pregnancy: pelvic girdle pain and lumbar pain. Of these, pelvic girdle pain is more common during pregnancy. It is a continuous or irregular type of deep stabbing pain either one-sided or on both sides in the lower back extending to the buttocks, thigh and calf but not the foot. Whereas the lumbar pain generally occurs in the lower spinal region above the tailbone. The pain may also extend to the foot.
Some women also experience pain in upper back while few of them feel the pain in the lower back only at night while sleep (nocturnal pain).
Back pain during pregnancy is generally neglected due to the limited options of treating it. Medicines are usually avoided for the treatment for backache in pregnancy due to its possible negative effects on the baby.
In most of the cases, backache arising during pregnancy subsides after delivery. Adequate rest, simple exercises and alternative therapy are safe and are commonly used to relieve backache during pregnancy.
Risk factors for backache during pregnancy
Women suffering from back pain before pregnancy are more likely to suffer from it during pregnancy. Lifestyle plays an important role; sedentary lifestyle or excessive activity involving aggressive physical effort before pregnancy increases the risk of backache during pregnancy.
Overweight and obesity are important risk factors for developing backache during pregnancy.Women pregnant for the second or third time are more likely to suffer from pregnancy backache as compared to the first pregnancy.
What causes backache in pregnancy?
Backache during pregnancy arises due to various reasons.
1. Stress on the back muscles: The growing baby exerts pressure on the spine and muscles of the back. Additionally, the normal curve in lumbar spine tends to increase during pregnancy due to the increasing size of the uterus. The centre of gravity is shifted forward to balance the increased body weight and circumference of the abdomen during pregnancy.
2. Hormonal cause: The secretion of the hormone relaxin increases during pregnancy. The hormone makes the ligaments and muscles of the back and pelvis weak and lax to prepare the body for childbirth. This causes problem in the functioning of small joints (sacroiliac joint) in the back during different activities and causes strain on the back muscles. Hormonal change is the chief reason for lower back pain in early pregnancy.
3. Abdominal muscles get stretched during pregnancy due to increasing size of the uterus. This increases the tension on the back muscles and gives rise to backache.
4. Mental stress of pregnancy also causes backache in few pregnant women.
How to prevent back pain during pregnancy?
Few tips that help prevent and relieve backache during pregnancy include the following:
- Regular moderate exercise like walking should be started before getting pregnant itself and continued during pregnancy. This helps in maintaining strong muscle tone and preventing backache to a significant extent. Swimming is considered as the best exercise for preventing backache during pregnancy.
- Avoid bending from the waist. Instead squat or bend at the knees while keeping the back straight to pick up things from the ground.
- Sleep sideways on a firm mattress with a pillow in between the knees. This helps to give support to the abdomen.
- Support the back with pillows or back rest attached to the chair while working in the sitting position during pregnancy.
- Hot and cold fomentation on the back helps decreasing pain and stiffness.
- Acupuncture and chiropractic therapies play a key role in relieving back pain while also limiting the use of medicines.
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Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.
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