Treat back pain during pregnancy

Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

28.03.2016 Andrew Johns 1 Popular

Low Back Pain in Pregnancy

It’s quite rare for a pregnant woman not to have lower back pains at least once during the pregnancy. With the belly growing rounder, the pressure on the spine increases. There are other reasons for the back pain during the pregnancy.

In any case, the expectant mom should tell all her complaints to her doctor:

  • One of the reasons for the back pain is that the bones and ligaments are preparing for the upcoming delivery. Another reason can be a pyelonephritis, but only the doctor can find the real cause.
  • In case of spinal problems (osteochondrosis or scoliosis) a set of special exercises can be performed along with other non-medical treatments. The medications that are usually used to treat osteochondrosis are prohibited during pregnancy.
  • Many women with lower back pain find relief in wearing bandage, but this should be discussed with the doctor.

Causes of Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

Why the Lower Back Pain Occurs During Pregnancy? In the first days after conceiving, the ligaments in the bones and internal organs start to prepare for the birth. The ovaries and placenta start producing the hormone relaxin, that makes the connectives tissues soft and elastic.

This is necessary for the pelvis to be more flexible for the baby birth. These changes in the body can cause the lower back pains.

Weight gain can trigger that pain too. The spine is not up to carrying the increased weight, especially if the woman had orthopaedic problems (a spinal curvature or osteochondrosis) before the pregnancy.

Lower back pain can be caused by the pyelonephritis, a kidney inflammation. It comes together with fever, swelling, headache, increased blood pressure and frequent urination.

The doctor should be called in case of a lower back pain with a temperature rise. If the above symptoms come with a light bleeding, it is a cause for alarm.

How to Overcome Back Pain During Pregnancy

In order to relieve back pain during pregnancy, you need to follow a few simple rules:

  • Wear shoes with low heels. As well as high heels, the absence of heels is not recommended.
  • Do physical jerks for pregnant women. Pregnancy is not a reason to spend most of your time in the bed. The following is optimal: specialized water aerobics and Yoga for pregnant women.
  • Be aware of your limits. If it's hard to do something on your own, just ask for help.
  • The bed, on which you sleep, should have a rigid base. The recommended sleeping pose is lateral position with a pillow between the knees to maintain your growing belly.
  • The following is permitted: a massage of tender areas (including a gentle back massage by your beloved husband), an application of "cold" and "heat". The use of warmer with ice or a package of frozen vegetables for 20 minutes 3 times a day during 2-3 days, then 2-3 days use the warmer with warm water in the same way. You should not apply neither heat nor cold to the abdomen.
  • Recommendations are the following: an acupuncture and an osteopath counseling. The specialist must have documents about the received corresponding training and have the right to apply any methods to pregnant women.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a short course of medicated pain relief. The use of acetaminophen (paracetamol) is considered the safest one.
  • When You Should Urgently See the Doctor

    In the following cases, the pain syndrome can "mask" some more serious health problems:

    • Some suddenly appeared severe pain;
    • A pain, which increases or lasts more than two weeks;
    • An attack-like, "rhythmic" pain;
    • A pain accompanied by the bloody spotting from the genital tract;
    • A pain on the background of a fast temperature rise or painful urination.

    Other causes of low back pain during pregnancy are the following:

    Back pain can be associated with pancreatitis, pyelonephritis, urolithiasis (a stone in the kidney is mobile and traumatize the urinary tract`s mucosa causing pain).

    1. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. Its development is provoked by the outflow of bile, any failure to comply with the diet, in particular, the hearty meat and fatty foods, alcohol, hereditary predisposition, stress. However, be aware that during pregnancy, this disease is fortunately quite rare. The acute pancreatitis manifests in the sharp pains in the upper abdomen (anticardium, right or left hypochondrium), lower back, the pain is often of a girdling type. There is often a vomiting, altered defecation pattern, low blood pressure. In this case, you need to call an ambulance or go to the hospital.

    The laboratory tests of blood and urine, ultrasound, fiberoptic gastroduodenoscopy, MRI, etc. are used to diagnose the disease. Most often, the treatment is conservative, in the hospital. The strict diet, medications to normalize the function of the pancreas, as well as anti-inflammatory and anaesthetics are assigned. In case of severe illness, a surgery cannot be excluded.

    2. Kidney back pain is usually drawing, nagging in case of pyelonephritis (inflammation of kidneys), or it is sharp, spasmodic in case of renal colic, usually involved by the movements of a stone from the renal pelvis to ureter. While renal colic, the pain is so severe that it is virtually impossible to find a position in which it could be tolerated. Sometimes the pain is distributed in the course of ureter, towards the groin and the urethra. It can often be weakened by using heat, putting a heating pad on the lumbus area. Another symptom of this disease is modifying urine; it becomes cloudy, some admixture of blood appears. In addition, the temperature can raise in case of pyelonephritis.

    The ultrasound, laboratory tests of blood and urine are carried out for diagnosis. Antibacterial preparations are assigned to treat pyelonephritis. They should better be selected individually, considering the sensitivity of microorganisms that cause the inflammation. The treatment can take place on an outpatient basis, but more often it held in the hospital. In case of renal colic, antispasmodics are used to reduce pain, pain management medications are also applied; the prevention of inflammatory process is conducted. If the stone is of a small size, it is not excluded that it will come out on its own. However, if the stone is big and covers the lumen of the ureter, it may require a surgical removal.

    How Doctors Treat Pain?

    First of all, the doctor will exclude the serious reasons for the pain and prescribe the medicine (if necessary). Pyelonephritis is treated with antibiotics that are safe for pregnant women.

    If cause of the pain is the increased pressure on the muscles and ligaments, special exercises will be advised for toning the muscles and relaxation. It’s better to start these exercises early in the pregnancy.

    Many women find pain relief in wearing a bandage. It helps to naturally distribute the weight on your back muscles, but only the doctor can confirm if the woman can wear the bandage.

    If osteochondrisis (degeneration of the intervertebral disc) is the reason for the pain, it is very important to remember that anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers are not to be used during pregnancy. Manual therapy is not a good option too, and most of the practitioners refuse to take a risk in fear of causing a preterm birth.

    Their concern is understandable because the position of the vertebrae affects the pelvic nerves. Though the persistent pain is not a good symptom either as it may affect the regulation of the nervous system.

    That being said, it is only a speculation as no solid research results have been obtained so far. The only advice for women, who have spinal problems, could be to have a preventive treatment before the pregnancy.

    Back Pain During Pregnancy

    Back Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

    Back pain or discomfort is common during pregnancy and should be expected to some degree by most women. Back pain may be experienced during any point of your pregnancy; however, it most commonly occurs later in pregnancy as baby grows.

    Back pain can disrupt your daily routine or interfere with a good night of sleep. The good news is there are steps you can take to manage the back pain that you experience.

    How common is back pain during pregnancy?

    You are not alone if you experience back pain during your pregnancy. The prevalence varies with reports showing between 50 to 70 percent Of pregnant women experiencing back pain.

    What causes back pain during pregnancy?

    Back pain during pregnancy is related to a number of factors. Some women begin to have lower back pain with the onset of pregnancy. Women who are most at risk for back pain are those who are overweight or had back pain prior to pregnancy.

    Here is a list of potential causes of back pain or discomfort during pregnancy:

    • Increase of hormones – Hormones released during pregnancy allow ligaments in the pelvic area to soften and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birthing process; this shift in joints and loosening of ligaments may affect the support your back normally experiences.
    • Center of gravity – Your center of gravity will gradually move forward as your uterus and baby grow, which causes your posture to change.
    • Additional weight – Your developing pregnancy and baby create additional weight that your back must support.
    • Posture or position – Poor posture, excessive standing, and bending over can trigger or escalate the pain you experience in your back.
    • Stress – Stress usually accumulates in weak areas in the body, and because of the changes in your pelvic area, you may experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy.

    How can you prevent or minimize back pain during pregnancy?

    Back pain may not be prevented completely, but there are things that you can do to reduce the severity or frequency.

    Here are a few steps you can take to help reduce the back pain you are experiencing:

    • Use exercises approved by your health care provider that support and help strengthen the back and abdomen.
    • Squat to pick up something instead of bending over.
    • Avoid high heels and other shoes that do not provide adequate support.
    • Avoid sleeping on your back.
    • Wear a support belt under your lower abdomen.
    • Consider having your back adjusted by a chiropractor.
    • Get plenty of rest. Elevating your feet is also good for your back.

    How can you treat back pain during pregnancy?

    There are a number of things you can do to treat back pain during pregnancy. Some of the steps you take to avoid back pain may also be used to treat current back pain.

    Here are some other common interventions:

    • Ice or heat
    • Braces or support devices
    • Medications used to treat inflammation
    • Sleep on your left side, and use a support pillow under your knees.
    • Schedule an appointment with a licensed health care professional such as a chiropractor or massage therapist.

    When to contact your health care provider?

    Experiencing back pain is usually not a reason to contact your health care provider, but there are situations where contacting your provider is necessary.

    You want to contact your health care provider If you are experiencing any of the following:

    • Severe back pain
    • Increasingly severe or abrupt-onset of back pain
    • Rhythmic cramping pains–This could be a sign of preterm labor.

    Severe back pain may be related to pregnancy-associated osteoporosis, vertebral osteoarthritis, or septic arthritis. These are not common, but it is something your health care provider will examine for if you are experiencing severe back pain.

    Your Next Steps:

    • Begin an approved exercise program to support your back and abdomen.
    • Set aside a couple of times each day when you can take a nap or get off your feet.
    • Purchase a support belt.
    • Purchase a sleep aid pillow.
    • Search below for a chiropractor or massage therapist.

    Last Updated: 07/2015

    Compiled using information from the following sources:

    Danforth Obstetrics and Gynecology Ninth Ed. Scott, James. Gibbs, et al, Ch. 1

    Williams’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 8

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