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Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

calendarJuly 26, 2016
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How to relieve back pain during pregnancy

With the growing of the baby, it is pretty likely for you to experience a back pain. This is a common pregnancy symptom and it usually appears in the second half of pregnancy.

Why Does My Lower Back Hurt?

Usually, pregnancy back pain appears at the area where the pelvis meets the spine - at the sacroiliac joint. The following factors may cause backache:

  • Additional weight. Most of the pregnant women gain between 25 and 35 pounds during the pregnancy. Since the spine now has to support that weight, this might lead to lower back pain even in the third trimester. Also, the baby puts pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back and this might cause you pain.
  • Wrong back posture. Gaining weight during pregnancy leads to shifts of your center of gravity. You might change your posture and way of moving without even noticing it. This could cause pain or strain in the back.
  • Stress. If you feel emotionally stressed, this might cause muscle tension in your back. As a result, you might experience back pain or back spasms.
  • Hormonal misbalance. When you are pregnant, your body produces a hormone, called relaxin. It helps the ligaments in the pelvic area relax and the joints become looser. If its levels in the body are high, the ligaments that support the spine might loosen. This will cause you instability and pain.

Is Lower Back Pain Normal in Early Pregnancy?

Yes, it is a completely normal condition. The expanding uterus will shift your center of gravity and will stretch out and weaken the abdominal muscles. This will change your posture and will create the feeling of strain on your back.

Lower Back Pain When Pregnant

Lower back pain in pregnancy might appear in two ways. The lumbar pain occurs in the area of the lumbar vertebrae. The other type - the posterior pelvic pain can be felt in the back of the pelvis. Both types of low back pain can appear at the same time.

Lumbar Pain in Lower Back

Lumbar pain can be felt over and around the spine, approximately at the level of your waist. It could also radiate to your legs. The pain usually becomes stronger after hours of sitting or standing or after lifting heavy objects. You will usually feel it more intense at the end of the day.

Posterior Pelvic Pain

It is even more common among the pregnant women. It can be felt deep inside the buttocks, on one or both sides or the back of your thighs. Various physical activities are able to cause it. This pain usually gets worse if you bend at the waist, e.g. when sitting on a chair and leaning forward. Posterior pelvic pain is often combined with pain over the pubic bone.

Could Severe Back Pain During Pregnancy Be Caused by Sciatica?

If you notice that your lower back pain radiates into the buttocks and thighs, it might be a symptom of sciatica. However, true sciatica is uncommon when pregnant and it affects only about 1 percent of pregnant women. If this is sciatica that you experience, your leg pain will usually be stronger that the one in the back. 

It might even reach the area below the knee or radiate to your foot and toes. Sciatica also causes sensations such as tingling or numbness. Some pregnant women experience severe sciatica, which causes numbness in the groin and genital area as well. This condition might even cause problems with urination or constipation.

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain when pregnant

The growing of the uterus is the main reason but there are some more factors for having back pain. If you have had such pain before getting pregnant or during another pregnancy, it is quite possible to have it again.

The risk is also higher if you do not exercise enough and leave to less physical activity. This leads to poor flexibility and weak back and abdominal muscles and might result in a backpack. If you have more than one baby in your belly, the risk of having a back pain is greater. Being overweight is also a risk factor.

How to Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy?

With the progression of pregnancy, your early pregnancy back pain is quite possible to reduce and even disappear before you give birth.

What to Do When Your Back Hurts?

You can do the following things in order to relieve your sharp lower back pain:

  • Exercises - Regular exercises will help you strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility. This will ease the stress on your spine. Pregnant women may exercise walking, yoga, swimming and others. Consult a doctor or a physical therapist which physical activity is suitable for you.
  • Apply heat or cold compresses. You can start with cold compresses and then switch to heat. Remember that you should not apply heat to your abdomen.
  • Change the posture. Pay attention to have a proper posture when working, sitting, exercising and sleeping.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture is safe and can be effective in relieving low back pain during pregnancy. Consult your doctor whether this method is suitable for you.

What Exercises are Best for Back Pain Symptoms?

  • Stretching – these exercises will make your muscles more flexible. You need to stretch gently in order to avoid traumas.
  • Swimming – it will make you muscles stronger and will help you get rid of the stress. It is not that exhausting as other exercises and is quite useful for your body.
  • Walking – it is a great way of exercising. Also, you are able to control your tempo and have a rest whenever you need it.

Avoid Sitting for Too Long

Although it might be hard for you as your pregnancy progresses, your body needs to move. If you need to sit all day while you are working, for example, be sure to sit up straight. The proper posture is important for the health of your back. If you spend a lot of time sitting, take frequent breaks. Get up for a while and walk around. This will help you cope with the stiffness and reduce the chances of having extreme lower back pain.

Forget About High Heels

You need comfortable shoes which will keep your feet stable. Wearing flat shoes will also help you have a proper posture.

When Should I Consult a Doctor?

Everything that bothers you about your pregnancy should be discussed with your doctor. Call your health care immediately if you feel severe back pain or rhythmic cramping pains.

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