Back Pain Management During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the causes of back pain, and is something that about 80% of women experience at some time up to delivery. Pregnancy can cause an increase in weight in the abdomen - probably the worst place to carry excess weight, as far as the lower back is concerned. Pregnancy also stretches and weakens the muscles of the abdomen that help to support the spine, causing an exaggerated curvature of the spine (lordosis). Though four out of five women experience back pain during pregnancy, the pain does not usually increase to the point of inability to sleep or beyond a point where the woman can tolerate the symptoms. In a small percentage of cases, pregnancy related back pain may cause significant pain and disability to the point where the women can't work or move around comfortably. The severity of back pain during pregnancy does not appear to be closely related to the size of the developing fetus, job satisfaction, exercise, or maternal weight gain.

The presence and severity of pregnancy related to back pain appears to be associated with biomechanical factors such as the depth of spinal curvature as well as abdominal and sagittal and transverse diameter. Certain types of postures and movements may aggravate the back pain of pregnancy such as walking, lifting, forward bending, sitting, and standing. During the daytime, back pain during pregnancy may begin in the lower back and radiate from the buttocks and down the thigh. During the nighttime, pregnancy related back pain may make it difficult to initiate and maintain sleep, and it may get worse during the night.

Back pain management during pregnancy. While certain types of exercises and activities are encouraged during pregnancy to maintain core strength, other exercises should be avoided to protect the back. Patients should avoid high impact or weight bearing exercises, or exercise that cause excessive bending, twisting, or those that asymmetrically load certain structures and muscle groups. These certain exercises and activities that should be avoided include single-leg stance postures, extensive twisting with lifting, stair climbing, and near the end-ranges of back or hip motion. Exercise or movements that involve direct bending to the ground without bending the knee can stretch or strain the back and abdominal muscles during pregnancy, especially the multifundus, which connect to the spinous processes of the vertebrae of the spine.

Practice good posture to take excessive pressure off the back during pregnancy. These good postural techniques and positions include:
  • Don't lock your knees when standing, bending, or picking up objects.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and back.
  • Hold your chest high.
  • Sit up straight when sitting, and stand up straight and tall.
As your baby gets bigger, weight towards your midsection will bulge towards the front of your body, and it may feel natural to begin to lean backwards to counteract the extra weight in the abdomen. If you compensate too much in leaning back, you man strain the muscles in your lower back and also weaken them. Practice sitting and doing all of your movements and activities with a straight back.

Pregnancy and Exercises. So far, we have spent a lot of time telling you things you shouldn't do during pregnancy. Let's talk about some of the things you should do to maintain core strength while your baby is growing in you. Exercises that are good for performing during pregnancy include walking, low-impact aerobics, and prenatal yoga.