Back pain is common during pregnancy. It’s often a side effect of the changes that are happening in your body to accommodate your growing baby and is usually nothing to worry about. And while it is a common complaint and typically goes away on its own, that doesn’t mean you just have to endure it until your baby is born. Even though you can’t turn to common back pain treatments like anti-inflammatory medications while pregnant, there are a number of things that you can do during and after your pregnancy to address back pain.
What Causes Back Pain During Pregnancy?
Aside from the typical issues that can create back pain even when you aren’t pregnant (auto accidents, muscle strains, overuse, traumatic injury, etc.), there are some causes that are specifically related to pregnancy. These include:
Yes, you are probably going to gain weight throughout your pregnancy. It’s healthy and it’s normal, but it also puts more strain on your body as it adjusts to carrying significantly more weight on your joints and muscles. Make sure that you are tracking your weight gain and working with your doctor to ensure you are gaining a healthy amount. Remember that you are likely going to drop the majority of your weight gain in the first few months after childbirth.
Your body goes through a lot when you are pregnant (as you are well aware!). Some of those changes can exacerbate existing back issues or create new ones. Your hips and back shift into different positions to counterbalance the weight of your growing belly, which can strain those muscles and joints. Some pregnant women’s abdomen muscles can also separate as their stomach grows, which decreases the amount of support their back receives, making back pain worse.
Emotional stress can cause back pain. Pregnancy can be a highly emotional time for many women as they worry about their pregnancy, the health of their baby, upcoming labor, and how their family will change with the new addition. All of this can lead to tension, which causes a tightening of the muscles of your neck, shoulder, and back. Prolonged tension can cause very severe back pain.
Back Pain Treatment Options During Pregnancy
Hot and Cold Compresses
Alternate a heating pad and ice pack on your muscles, rotating between the two every twenty minutes or so for a day or two after your back pain begins. This can help the muscles relax and decrease the inflammation you might be experiencing.
Gentle stretching, massaging, and strengthening exercises can help repair the muscles in your back and help you regain your normal range of motion. A doctor or physical therapist can teach you the best moves for your body.
Prenatal yoga is a great way to help strengthen your muscles without putting unnecessary strain on them. Prenatal yoga is also a great way to prepare your body for labor and to help you heal after delivery.
While some massage options aren’t good for pregnant women (they could actually cause you to go into early labor), a massage from a trained prenatal massage therapist can do wonders for back pain. It might be a worthwhile weekly treat during the later stages of your pregnancy.
Swimming is a great activity for expectant moms! The water provides gentle resistance to help strengthen muscles in your back without straining them. Look for prenatal aquaerobics classes in your area.
Your posture has probably changed as your pregnancy progresses. Make sure you aren’t slouching when sitting, standing, or walking now that you are pregnant. Slouching strains the muscles in your back and can make back pain worse.
Get More Rest
Easier said than done, but it’s important to your physical, emotional, and mental health! Getting more rest when you are pregnant gives your body a chance to heal and recover from the hard work of the day. Get on a good sleep schedule and do what you can to get more rest.
Good Physical Support
Make sure you are giving your body the support it needs. This means things like wearing good supportive shoes, wearing a pregnancy belt if needed, and using plenty of pillows to support your body when sitting or sleeping.
Good emotional support
Your emotional health has an impact on your physical health! Make sure you get the emotional support you need from your partner, friends, family, and even support groups while you are pregnant.
When To Seek Back Pain Treatment From Your Doctor
In most cases, back pain that you experience while you are pregnant will go away on its own. Your body will learn to adjust and support your pregnant physique, and things will slowly go back to normal after your delivery. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore back pain. You should seek the help of your doctor for back pain if:
- The pain worsens.
- You can’t participate in normal activities.
- It lasts more than three weeks.
- You are experiencing spasms.
- The pain travels to your legs or arms.
- You experience weakness or numbness in your extremities.
Don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor or nurse about your back pain if it’s a concern to you during your next check up.
Suffering from back pain even after your pregnancy? You might want to consider making an appointment with the Colorado Spine Institute. We can help you discover the cause of your back pain and develop a treatment plan to find relief. Give us a call or contact us through our website today.