It’s fairly accepted that carrying a child places a great demand on a woman’s body. There are an enormous number of physiological changes that take place, but there are also a lot of mechanical changes. Fortunately, many of these mechanical effects can be prevented.
Back pain is the most common mechanical problem experienced during pregnancy, with approximately 50% of previously asymptomatic individuals reporting back pain at some point throughout term.
There are a multitude of reasons for this. Postural changes associated with carrying extra weight in-front of the spine, and extra demand on muscles for the same reason, are two of the most common causes.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, research has shown that women who exercise during pregnancy report less low back pain than there more sedentary peers. Conditioning the muscles around the spine both before and during pregnancy is one of the easiest and most significant steps to prevent pregnancy related back pain.
Another reason back pain can be related to pregnancy is related to hormonal changes. During pregnancy your body produces more of the hormone Relaxin than normal. This increases the stretchiness of your joints.
Increased joint flexibility is great when it comes to labour, but more mobile joints are more susceptible to irritation from normal every day activities. Fortunately, within three days of delivery, relaxing levels return to more or less normal.
Approximately 1% of previously asymptomatic individuals report sciatica during pregnancy. This is often attributed to naturally increased fluid retention putting pressure on nerves as they exit the spine.
This is a half-truth; while any extra fluid held by the body can impact on the functioning of nerves, if this were the sole cause of pregnancy related sciatic pain, symptoms would be symmetrical in both legs, and this is very rarely the case. Any sciatic-type pain usually hints at a slight pre-existing injury.
Most of the causes of pregnancy related back pain can be mitigated with prior treatment and strengthening, and so it is good advice for anybody planning a pregnancy to see their chiropractor and to exercise their core muscles beforehand as well as during pregnancy.
And should you happen to be unlucky and experience sciatica or back pain during or after pregnancy, our chiropractors have years of experience in treating pregnant women and can relieve the mechanical strain on your body very quickly and safely.