PT Tip of the Month Archive

Pregnancy and Low Back Pain

Being pregnant can be one the of the most important and rewarding times in a woman's life. Unfortunately though it can also be a new source of musculoskeletal aches and pains, particularly low back pain. There are some estimates that put the prevalence rate of low back pain during pregnancy at 50-70%. Persistent back pain can interfere with daily life, work, and sleep. The good news is that pregnancy related low back pain can often be treated effectively and cured.


Causes of low back pain

There are a number of factors related to the increased risk of back pain during pregnancy. The first is caused by the hormonal changes that take place, particularly the increase in the levels of the hormone relaxin. This hormone allows the bones of the pelvis to widen so that there will be more space to deliver the baby. However, this loosening of the ligaments can have the side effect of loosening the SI joints and bones of the spine, which increase the risk of pain.

Another factor that can contribute to the increase in low back pain is the weight gain that takes place during pregnancy. The typical woman will gain anywhere from 25-35 pounds while pregnant. This will not only put extra stress on the spine, which has to support the increase in weight, but will also create postural changes, because the weight gain tends to be more forward of the body's midline. The postural changes will also put extra stress on the spine. This coupled with the loosening of the ligaments can be a perfect recipe for back pain.

Pregnancy related low back pain and physical therapy

Physical therapy has been shown to successfully help manage the symptoms of back pain. Treatment will often include an educational component in regards to postural training/ergonomics, core strengthening exercises and suggestions for support belts. Treatment may also include some hands-on treatment, including soft tissue massage, stretching, and joint mobilization. As always, treatment will be individualized for your particular signs and symptoms.

It is important to note that treatment for pregnancy related low back pain may differ from traditional treatment for back pain since great care is taken to ensure no harm is placed on the unborn child. Therefore, it is important to see a physical therapist specifically trained in the treatment of low back pain in pregnant women.

If you or someone you know is currently pregnant and experiencing low back pain, and you would like to schedule an evaluation, please call 617-232-PAIN for our Brookline office and 617-325-PAIN for our West Roxbury office.

33 Pond Avenue, Suite 107B Brookline, MA 02445 Tel: (617) 232-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 232-5196
1208B VFW Parkway, Suite 202 West Roxbury, MA 02132 Tel: (617) 325-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 325-7282