Low back pain is a common occurrence during pregnancy. This is primarily due to the weight shift that develops as the fetus grows. These symptoms are compounded by the release of hormones to relax the ligaments in the body in order to deliver the baby. The combination of these two factors can amplify a pre-existing joint dysfunction, which can lead to pain.
There are three joints in the low back that can be irritated with the new weight shift: lumbar discs, sacroiliac joints and lumbar facet joints. The discs are basically shock absorbing pieces of cartilage in between the bones in the spine, which can obviously be stressed with weight shift/gain. The sacroiliac (SI) joints are also susceptible to weight changes. The SI joints are under the “dimples” on either side of the low back near the belt line and connect the sacrum to the pelvis. Finally, the facet joints help guide the motion of the low back and can be stressed when the curvature in the low back becomes accentuated.
Another common complaint is sciatic pain. This is pain that radiates down one or even both legs. Nerve pressure can also cause a numbness or tingling sensation. Sciatic nerve pain is caused by irritation of the nerve either by inflammation around a joint dysfunction or by direct pressure on the nerve by the baby.
The story of joint stress doesn’t end with delivering the baby. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding posture can then lead to mid back and neck pain. Not to mention the light, but frequent physical stress of carrying the baby. The usual symptoms from this is a painful tension or burning in between the shoulder blades that spreads up the neck.
So what can be done to help relieve these conditions? Chiropractic evaluation for joint misalignments and restrictions is a great place to start. Chiropractic adjustments can correct restrictions and misalignments that will in turn reduce the painful symptoms created by the dysfunctional joint. Sciatic pain can be reduced by balancing the pelvis, relaxing pelvic girdle ligaments and restoring the natural amount of space in the pelvic basin for the baby to move off of the sciatic nerve.
Just because low back pain is common during pregnancy, doesn’t mean it cannot be treated effectively. Pregnancy is difficult enough without having to deal with low back pain.