Approximately half of all pregnancies are complicated by back pain (1). Hormones cause the ligaments to relax and soften and widens pelvic joints. This increased mobility may be noticed in other joints and muscles as well. As the uterus enlarges and expands, the body's center of gravity shifts and may contribute to spinal malfunction resulting in muscle cramps and nerve pain. These changes in the posture puts more strain on the lower back and pelvis and it may manifest itself as lower back pain. About 10% of the time, the pain becomes so severe that it can interfere with your ability to work or carry out normal activities. The neck will also compensate for the changes in the lower spine by moving forward. This results in various symptoms, including headaches, nausea, or insomnia. Some factors that are associated with increased risk of developing low back pain during pregnancy are strenuous work, lifting, bending, child care and a history of low back pain prior to pregnancy.
The most common cause of back pain in pregnancy is malfunction in the sacroiliac joint. This condition is treatable and (especially with treatment) tends to get better after delivery. The sacroiliac joint forms the functional unit of the pelvis that allows normal alternating movement during walking. As the pregnancy advances, hormonal changes prepare the pelvis for delivery of the child by loosening the strong ligaments that control the function of these joints (2). The increased elasticity of these ligaments are necessary for the birth canal to expand as the baby passes through it. However, the associated increase in motion and instability around the sacroiliac joint can also be a source of pain.
Fortunately, simple treatments of manipulation (adjustments) can usually relieve this type of pain and has provided relief and restored function for 91% of patients studied (3). The pain usually subsides soon after delivery and it takes about six-week for the pelvic ligaments to regain their rigidity to be able to support normal weight bearing and motion during normal daily activities.
Remember, the good news is that appropriate treatment can help provide significant pain relief during the pregnancy and, importantly, minimizes the chances of having chronic low back pain after the pregnancy. Chiropractic care is gentle, safe and it can help the pregnant women to have a healthier pregnancy and delivery. It is best to have a check up before you become pregnant. Chiropractic adjustments can be given throughout the pregnancy and directly after your labor and delivery. Chiropractic care will give greater comfort during pregnancy and reduce the need for pain killers during delivery.
Berg G, Hammar M, Moller-Nielsen J, Linden U, Throbald JL: Low back pain during pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology 71 (1): 71-5, 1988.
Gariola DM, Tarver RD, Gibson L. Togers RE, Wase JL: Anatomic changes in the pelvis after uncomplicated vaginal delivery: a CT study on 14 women. American Journal of Roentgenology 153 (6): 1239-41, 1989.
Daly JM, Frames PS, Rapoze PA: Sacroiliac subluxation: a common, treatable cause of low-back pain in pregnancy. Family Practice Research Journal 11(2): 149-51,1991.