DID YOU KNOW?
Prenatal and post-partum back pain is very common and can have a profound impact on pregnant women and new mothers. More than 50% of women experience some form of musculoskeletal pain or discomfort during pregnancy. This pain is significantly correlated with sleep disturbances and use of pain medication, affecting quality of life and impacting activities of daily living. Many different complaints are common, including back pain, wrist pain, leg cramps, pelvic pain, numbness and tingling, headaches and many others. These symptoms can have a profound impact physically and mentally on pregnant mothers and their families.
25-90% of women report low back pain (LBP) and pelvic girdle pain (PGP). An average weight gain of approximately 30 lbs. is considered healthy, most of which occurs around the abdomen and pelvis adding a significant frontal load. This added weight puts stress on the lower back, hips, knees and feet. These complaints are usually multi-factorial in nature and rarely have one single cause. Altered posture, hormonal changes, muscle fatigue and imbalances are common during pregnancy. This can lead to altered biomechanics as women change the way they sleep, move and stand during pregnancy. As the baby grows and frontal load increases, core muscles stretch and lose the ability to support the low back as they once did. These postural changes can cause pain, specifically in the low back and pelvis, as the weight shifts forward.
Hormonal changes also play a role in symptoms during pregnancy, as levels of Relaxin increase and contribute to the loosening of joints in order to facilitate the enlargement of the uterus and childbirth. This loosening of the joints can cause decreased stability and alter posture even further, causing other structures, usually the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia), to become taxed. These changes can result in pain and injury during pregnancy, resulting in back pain.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Studies have shown that manual therapy can help decrease and manage pain during pregnancy, labour and after childbirth. Chiropractors can provide safe, effective and drug-free conservative care to relieve discomfort and improve function during pregnancy and after giving birth. Unfortunately, health care providers frequently dismiss women who experience LBP during this time in their lives, as MSK complaints are not considered a serious risk to the mother or child. Chiropractors are in a unique position to focus on addressing these complaints and treatment options. Chiropractic care is common for pregnant women using a variety of treatment options including manual therapy, taping, exercise therapy and patient education.