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Back Pain During Pregnancy

back pain during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey that brings about numerous physical and emotional changes in a woman’s body. While the joy of welcoming a new life is exciting, pregnancy can come with various discomforts. Back pain during pregnancy is a prevalent issue experienced by lots of expectant mothers. In fact, it is a common occurrence affecting 50-80% of pregnant women at some point during their pregnancy journey.

It typically starts as discomfort in the lower back area which spread to hips, pelvis, buttocks, and thighs. From mild and intermittent discomfort to chronic pain, the severity and duration varies, with some even hinders daily activity. Here, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, risk factors, management strategies, and preventive measures for back pain during pregnancy.


Why Do Women Suffer From Back Pain During Pregnancy?

Factors contribute to the development of back pain during pregnancy:

  • Weight Gain
    Women typically gain weight during pregnancy to support the growth and development of fetus. This additional weight, particularly in the abdominal area, causes the body’s center of gravity to  shift forward, which leading to increased strain on the back muscles and spine.
  • Hormonal Changes
    Hormonal fluctuations, particularly the release of relaxin, a hormone that relaxes the ligaments in the pelvic area to prepare for childbirth, can also affect the stability of the spine and pelvic joints. While essential for facilitating childbirth, the loosening of ligaments can contribute to instability and increased susceptibility to back pain.
  • Changes in Posture
    As the uterus expands to accommodate the growing fetus, pregnant women often adopt a compensatory posture characterized by an exaggerated lumbar curve (lordosis) and forward tilting of the pelvis. These changes in posture can strain the muscles and ligaments in the back, leading to discomfort and pain.
  • Muscle Weakness and Imbalance
    Weakness or imbalance in the core and pelvic floor muscles can exacerbate back pain during pregnancy. The increased strain placed on these muscles to support the growing abdomen and maintain proper posture can result in fatigue, discomfort, and pain.
  • Emotional Factors
    Pregnancy can be a stressful time both physically and emotionally as women navigate the various changes and uncertainties associated with pregnancy and impending motherhood. Stress and emotional factors can contribute to muscle tension and aggravate existing back pain.


Symptoms of Back Pain During Pregnancy

While some are blessed with little to none interruption, some back pain during pregnancy may turn to debilitating pain that interfere with daily activities. Below are a variety of signs to look out for:

  • Dull Pain: Persistent aching sensation in the lower back, which may worsen with prolonged standing, sitting, or physical activity.
  • Sharp Pain: In some cases, back pain during pregnancy manifest as sharp, shooting pains that radiate from the lower back down the buttocks and legs, resembling sciatica.
  • Limited Mobility: Pregnant women with back pain may experience stiffness and reduced range of motion in the back, making it challenging to perform daily tasks and activities.
  • Discomfort with Certain Movements: Certain movements, such as bending, lifting, or twisting, may intensity back pain during pregnancy, causing increased discomfort or pain.
  • Sleep Interruption: Back pain can interfere with sleep quality, making it difficult for pregnant ladies to find a comfortable sleeping position and have a restful sleep.



Risk Factors Lead to Back Pain During Pregnancy

While back pain during pregnancy can affect women of all backgrounds and ages, certain factors may increase the risk of developing this condition:

  • Previous History
    Women who have experienced back pain before pregnancy are more likely to develop back pain during pregnancy.
  • Multiple Pregnancies
    Supporting the weight of multiple fetuses (e.g., twins or triplets) put strains on expectant mother’s abdominal muscles and spine.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
    Lack of regular physical activity weaken muscles that support the spine and increase risks of developing back pain during pregnancy.
  • Occupational Factors
    Certain occupations that involve prolonged standing, heavy lifting, or repetitive movements may predispose pregnant women to back pain.
  • Poor Posture
    Maintaining poor posture, such as slouching or standing with an arched back, can contribute to muscle strain and exacerbate back pain during pregnancy.
  • Excessive Weight Gain
    Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can put additional strain on the spine and worsen existing back pain.


Treatment of Back Pain During Pregnancy

While some back pain during pregnancy is usually not a cause for concern and resolves on its own after childbirth, others intensifies. Severe back pain makes it challenging to perform daily activities, even disturbs sleep and causes irritability. This can take a toll on a woman’s mental health, leading to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Women who experience back pain during pregnancy are also at an increased risk of developing postpartum back pain in the weeks and months following childbirth. Here are known ways that provide relief for pregnancy back pain.

  1. Physical Therapy: Engaging in exercises and stretches designed to strengthen core muscles, improve posture, and reduce strain on the back.
  2. Exercise: Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga can help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
  3. Proper Body Mechanics: Practicing good posture and using correct body mechanics when lifting or carrying objects.
  4. Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat packs or cold compresses to the affected area for temporary pain relief.
  5. Maternity Support Belts: Using supportive belts or braces to relieve pressure on the back and abdomen.
  6. Acupuncture or Acupressure: Some women find relief from back pain through acupuncture or acupressure techniques.
  7. Medications: Acetaminophen may be recommended for short-term pain relief, but NSAIDs should be avoided.
  8. Prenatal Massage: Gentle massage therapy tailored for pregnant women can help alleviate muscle tension and discomfort.
  9. Chiropractic Care: Some women benefit from chiropractic adjustments to address alignment issues and reduce pain.
  10. Psychological Support: Managing stress through relaxation techniques and seeking emotional support can also help manage back pain during pregnancy.


Addressing back pain during pregnancy through appropriate interventions and lifestyle modifications can help reduce the risk of postpartum back pain. However, it is essential for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare providers before implementing any treatment or management strategies to ensure safety.