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Reasons And Remedies For Back Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy changes the life of any woman. In more ways than one. In addition to preparing oneself mentally and emotionally to take care of another being, the process of pregnancy is in itself a journey unique to each woman.

Every woman is different. While one woman might go through bouts of nausea during pregnancy, there might be another who does not feel squeamish in the least.

Another common problem associated with pregnancy is that of back pain in general, and lower back pain in particular. In a study conducted on pregnant women, it was found that nearly 80% of the women in the study had back pain [1].


Back Pain During Pregnancy

While back pain in pregnancy is quite a commonplace occurrence, the degrees at which it affects those pregnant differs from woman to woman. Even if the same woman becomes pregnant multiple times, the intensity of back pain, if experienced, might not be the same in all the pregnancies.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, pregnancy-related back pain is one of the common complaints among pregnant women [2]. Lower back pain can have an adverse or negative impact upon the life of the woman suffering from it [3].

As per NCBI, lower back pain in a pregnant woman can manifest itself either as the following:

•Pain in the pelvic region also referred to as "pelvic girdle pain" [PGP], and
• A pain over and around the lumbar spine also called "lumbar pain" [LP].

The best course of action in cases of back pain in pregnant women is of trying to diagnose the pain as early as possible to minimize the impact on the woman's quality of life. Let us see as to what are the common causes of back pain in pregnant women.


Causes Of Back Pain During Pregnancy

Various studies conducted on pregnant women have revealed a range of factors that contribute to lower back pain. These can be broadly categorized into physical and physiological changes.

Physical Causes

1.Weight gain

The weight gained during pregnancy exerts added pressure on the joints and muscles of the body. The additional weight also causes strain on the pelvic region as well as the lumbar area.

2. Increase in stomach size

The change in the size of the abdomen or stomach also weighs down on the pelvis leading to pain in the back of pregnant women.

3. Change in the gravity centre of the body

The body gravity centre changes during pregnancy, adding to the stress put on the lower back. The posture of the body adopted by the pregnant woman also has a role to play.

Various studies have led to the finding that lower back pain [LBP] during pregnancy might be strongly related in general to the movements of the body, and in particular to the posture of the body [4].

4. Physiological changes

A major physiological change during pregnancy that is closely associated with pregnancy is that of the hormonal changes in the body. During pregnancy, the body goes through a lot of hormonal changes, which have been found to lead to pain and inflammation in the back [5].

Increased levels of the hormone relaxin - secreted by the placenta for causing the cervix to dilate and prepare the uterus for labour - has a direct correlation with back pain during pregnancy. It is estimated that the levels of relaxin in the body increase 10 times more than the usual during pregnancy [6].


Remedies For Back Pain During Pregnancy

In a survey of 275 women before Week 12 of pregnancy, it was found that daily routine activity of pregnant women is linked to low back pain [7]. The findings of the survey suggest that low back pain in pregnant women can be managed by making changes to the basic physical movements.

For example, even the simple act of changing the way of standing up can be changed to that it can reduce the weight on the body.Taking adequate rest is also highly recommended. Pregnancy is a time to take it easy, so to speak.

A rule of thumb to follow when you are pregnant is that of following every instruction of your doctor. Regardless of how much advice you get, solicited or unsolicited, always keep in mind that your doctor always knows the best. Always. Never try anything just because it worked out for your friend or neighbour.

No two pregnancies are the same. What worked for someone you know might not bring you the same results. Moreover, you might not even know the whole story behind your advisor's experience. While it might not be possible to completely cure cases of lower back pain in pregnant women, it can be adequately reduced to a certain extent.

Early identification and treatment are essential. Differentiating between pelvic girdle pain and lumbar pain is important as the treatment differs accordingly [8].


Treatment Of Low Back Pain In Pregnant Women

Treatment of low back pain in pregnant women revolves around certain common measures, which include [9]:

  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Relaxation
  • Exercise
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • Physiotherapy
  • Stabilization belts
  • The above-mentioned are part of the general treatment recommended in most cases of pregnancy. Serious cases - such as those involving disc herniation, for instance - require more vigorous treatment.


Useful Tips

While low back pain cannot be entirely done away with, certain handy tips can help to reduce the instances of lower back pain during pregnancy [10].

  • Sleep right. Avoid sleeping on your back.
  • Wear comfortable footwear. Avoid wearing high heels as much as possible. Shoes that do not provide adequate support for your feet are not good for your back during pregnancy.
  • Picking up something. If you have to pick up something, it is avoidable to bend over to get it. A better idea is to try squatting instead.
  • Exercise right. Ask your doctor for back and abdomen exercises that you can safely do. Never take up any exercises until you have got your doctor's approval for the same.
  • Support your tummy. You can wear a support belt under your lower abdomen.
  • Rest right. Get as much rest as you can manage.
  • Feet elevation. While sitting or lying down on the bed, you can elevate your feet.