Back Pain During Pregnancy – Causes and Treatment

You’re expecting a child, and it’s just the start of another day in your nine-month pregnancy journey. You’ve just gotten through just another day with back pain. Just another day?! As if you needed another symptom to worry and think about alongside the myriad of things you have to worry about as a part of your busy day.

We know how frustrating it can be to have back and/or pelvic pain, let alone if you’re expecting a child and have pain. Back and pelvic pain is such a common symptom during pregnancy that we thought we’d write a short guide as to how to navigate your back pain and some strategies to relieve it.

There are two types of back pain that are commonly associated with being pregnant:

1 – Thoracic and lumbar pain 

Do you have pain in your mid to lower back? Have you previously had lower or upper back pain or stiffness? Does it get worse with bending, turning or lifting? If you answered ‘yes’ to the previous questions, you may have thoracic or lumbar back pain.

During pregnancy, this type of back pain commonly occurs if you’ve had back pain previously (prior to your pregnancy). The good news is that this type of pain tends to improve or remain the same as your pregnancy progresses.

How to manage your back pain while you’re pregnant:

  • Modify lifting techniques:
    During your pregnancy, you might need to change your lifting techniques so as to not let the way you move or your baby bump strain your back too much. Ways to take the strain off your back include ensuring that you’re lifting with the correct technique, lightening your lifting load or getting someone else to help if the load is too heavy.
  • Improve back mobility and strength:
    Improving your back mobility and strength can be a life saver, especially if you’re known to have back pain quite frequently. Back stretches and some simple core exercises may help. Consult our physiotherapists or exercise physiologists to gain insights into the types of stretches that might be helpful.

For a few practical demonstrations, please see exercise 2-4 from Kelly Jones, or resident Womens Health Physio:

  • Continue exercising:
    Continuing to exercise is a really nice way to get your body moving and maintaining strength in your body while you are pregnant. Not to mention all the other great effects that exercise can have for your whole cardiovascular system, your bones, and mental health! Just remember to consult your health care professional or physiotherapist to make sure that you’re doing safe exercises for your own body and pregnancy journey.

2 – Pelvic Girdle Pain

If the back pain is in your lower back and pelvic region and you have only started experiencing the pain since your pregnancy started, you are more likely to be experiencing Pelvic Girdle Pain. As pelvic girdle pain can get worse during pregnancy, it’s important to address this type of pain early to get benefits of treatment and minimise the progression.

What could be causing Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Well, there are a couple of changes that could contribute to pelvic girdle pain although it does vary from person to person! Currently, it is believed that changes such as increased laxity of the ligaments in the pelvis (which in turn reduces stability of the pelvis), or asymmetries in laxity between one side of your pelvis compared to the other could be contributing to Pelvic Girdle Pain.

So, what can you do during pregnancy if you have pelvic girdle pain? 

  • Minimise activities that are asymmetric in nature: for example, standing to one side, walking up the stairs
  • Keep your knees together when rolling to one side in bed or getting up
  • Reduce time sitting or standing in one spot
  • Make your step smaller when walking
  • Exercise that involves even weight bearing through each foot. If you’re unsure of what sort of exercises are safe for you or will reduce your pain, consult one of our physiotherapists or exercise physiologists who will be able to help you make an exercise plan.
  • Pelvic belts can assist in stabilising your pelvis if put on the right way: consult our physiotherapists for correct fitting of a pelvic belt to best assist your symptoms

If you have back or pelvic girdle pain during your pregnancy journey, we hope that this information and the tips provided will help you. If you’ve still got questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our team and book in for a session with one of our physiotherapists or exercise physiologists.

This blog was written by Kelly Jones, Physiotherapist at Precision Physio – Concord. If you would like more information, or to work specifically with Kelly, you can contact her through the Precision Physio Concord clinic: 02 9736 3950 or book in online.

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