During a normal pregnancy, the good news is that your baby is growing and you are blossoming. The bad news is that you are likely to experience back pain. Your symptoms may occur in the pelvic area or the low back, or both; and some women may also experience leg pain. Back pain during pregnancy is generally attributed to postural changes (increased low back curve to balance increasing belly weight) and ligament laxity caused by hormones.
Most pregnant women will experience some degree of back and or pelvic pain during pregnancy. It usually begins in the third month of pregnancy and peaks in the third trimester before declining in severity. Many women report a return to pre-pregnancy levels of low back pain within six months of delivery, but some experience chronic low back or pelvic pain. The 12-month postpartum rate of back or pelvic pain is 37 percent, and the six-year rate is 18 percent.
Pregnancy-related low back pain contributes substantially to health care costs. Of those women who experienced low back pain during pregnancy, 94 percent have recurrent symptoms with subsequent pregnancies, and two-thirds of these patients experience disability requiring sick leave. Notably, 19 percent of women with pain in an initial pregnancy report avoiding a future pregnancy out of fear of recurrence of these symptoms.
Fortunately, several effective non-drug strategies can help reduce the severity and frequency of back and pelvic pain: practicing good posture when standing and sitting, sleeping on your side, and wearing low-heeled shoes with good arch support. Exercise and spinal manipulation are also very effective.
Medical research teams have found that an individualized exercise program that includes stabilizing exercises and aerobic exercise is effective for pregnant patients with back or pelvic pain. Aerobic exercise during pregnancy is important to your overall health, the improvement your mood and and the reduction of fatigue. Stabilizing exercises can control pain, improve function, and enhance overall quality of life. Both forms of exercise can be used not only to treat pain, but also to prevent it. You should consult with your medical doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Researchers have found that spinal manipulation can provide safe and effective relief of back and pelvic pain in pregnant women. Three scientific reviews found that chiropractic treatment during pregnancy is a safe and effective means of treating common spinal symptoms in pregnant patients. Altogether, the current literature suggests that chiropractic treatment is a safe intervention for pregnant women with back and pelvic pain. Recently, a randomized clinical trail found that adding chiropractic care, between four and six treatment sessions, to standard obstetric management provided important clinical benefits to pregnant women with back and pelvic pain. This study, published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, was conducted with medical doctors and chiropractors. Mayo clinic has also recommend spinal manipulation for pregnant patients. If you are considering chiropractic care, it is recommended that you consult with an evidence-based chiropractor.
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