Chiropractic and pregnancy related low back pain. How can it help?
Pregnancy chiropractic and low back pain?
During pregnancy, it is common for a woman to experience low back pain which can be varying degrees of intensity from mild to debilitating.
Around 14 weeks of term, the ovaries release a hormone called Relaxin to aid in the laxity of the joints to allow for the growing baby. As pregnancy progresses, there is an increase in weight load to the front of the pelvis. This causes a shift in the centre of gravity and the low back starts to curve more inwards in order to assist with stability. Generally, the change in weight load causes more gravity force into the lumbar facet joints and they become irritated and inflamed. As if this isn’t enough to contend with, the abdominal (tummy) muscles weaken as the abdomen expands which also adds to the low back instability.
Chiropractors focus on joints and their ability to freely move in all directions they were anatomically intended to move. One study found that approx 84% of patients who received chiropractic care for low back pain had reported relief from their pain (1). In addition, for those receiving regular chiropractic care during their pregnancy found labour time was reduced by 25% for first expectant mothers and by 41% for multiparous women (2)
Generally I like to use low force techniques with pregnant women ( such as activator soft tissue release and joint mobilisation) for comfort and safety reasons, particularly in the low back and pelvis. I have a pregnancy chiropractic table which allows you to lie on your tummy during the treatment while baby has a snug area to fit during the treatment. If you are anything like me when I was pregnant, I missed being able to do this!
Sometimes we can use kinesiology taping to help support areas that may be contributing to your complaint such as supporting the belly gently to take the pressure off the anterior ribs or stabilising the sacro-iliac joint which is hypermobile. I sometimes also recommend the use of a sacro-iliac belt, which we can fit and order for you in the clinic.
Once we have your low back or mid back pain settling, usually in 3 – 6 treatments, I recommend we build on your pelvic floor strength before the big arrival day. As I am also qualified in pregnancy Clinical Pilates, I will usually give you a home program, but I can also recommend local pregnancy pilates or yoga classes if you prefer to do small group classes.
What exercise can I do during pregnancy?
Once your back pain has settled you may want to get back into exercise. Many women get concerned about how much and what type of exercise they can do during a normal *pregnancy and there really isn’t too much restriction (although you wouldn’t want to play a contact sport!) Generally, I advise the following for pregnant women (who have had clearance to exercise from their obstetrician or midwife) which is based on current evidence:
- Avoid raising your body temperature too much, particularly in the first trimester and stay well hydrated
- As you progress into the later pregnancy, tiredness is always an issue so don’t overdo your exercise or exercise to the point of exhaustion
- Strength training is ok but remember as your baby grows, your low back and pelvis will become a little unstable exposing you to back pain or injury. Just stay within your limits and maybe even drop your weight a little and do more reps instead
- Work on your pelvic floor early. If there is one thing that we know after having a baby, your pelvic floor can affected so have a strong pelvic floor prior will help with complications afterwards. Doing Kegels or joining a reformer Pilates class is the best for this.
- The key point is don’t overdo it. Remember your baby is looked after first and foremost by your body and then you come last!
If you would like to talk to me more about techniques I offer in pregnancy or if you’d like to chat about whether chiropractic is suitable for you and your baby, please call me directly on 0434059242
*normal pregnancy means absence of complications or conditions:
- certain types of lung and heart diseases
- cervical insufficiency or cerclage
- being pregnant with more than one baby
- placenta previa after 26 weeks
- preeclampsia or pregnancy induced high blood pressure
- severe anaemia
The list is not exhaustive and I highly recommend you obtain clearance from your Obstetrician, GP or Midwife prior to exercise to ensure it is safe for you and your baby
(1) Borggren, C (2007) Pregnancy and Chiropractic. A Narrative Review of the Literature. J. Chiropr Med, 6(2), 70-74. Retrieved February 26, 16
(2) Chiropractic Care during Pregnancy. (2015 July). American Pregnancy Associatio. Retrieved 17th February 2020 from http://www.amercicanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/chiropractic-care-during-pregnancy