Thursday, 28 August 2014

Back Pain in Pregnancy

What are the reasons for back pain during pregnancy?

Pregnancy can cause you to gain as much as a quarter of your body weight, adding stress to the back and other weight-bearing structures.
Center of gravity changes during pregnancy. This change in your center of gravity creates muscular imbalances and muscle fatigue that strains weight-bearing structures in the body and causes poor posture and/makes poor posture even worse.
Abdominal muscles become increasingly lax in order to accommodate a growing uterus, back muscles compensate by working much harder.
As your breasts become fuller, added weight in the chest area can pull at your upper spine, creating painful, pinching pressure.
As your belly gets bigger throughout your pregnancy, your lower back curves more than usual to accommodate the load, resulting in strained muscles and, you guessed it, pain.
Malfunction in the hip joint is the most common cause of back pain in pregnancy.
Activities that create unbalanced, uneven weight-bearing of the spine, pelvis, and hips causes back pain during pregnancy, which includes walking and running, rolling over in bed, bending forward, twisting, lifting and navigating stairs.
Increased level of the hormone relaxin  that is released during pregnancy allow ligaments in the pelvic area to soften and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birthing process of your baby; this shift in joints and loosening of ligaments may affect the support your back normally experiences.
Poor posture, excessive standing, lifting, twisting, navigating the stairs and bending over can trigger or escalate the pain you experience in your back
Stress usually finds the weak spot in the body, and because of the changes in your pelvic area, you may experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy

What helps?

Good posture. Standing up straight allows muscles to naturally lengthen and stretch, making good posture one of the easiest “exercises” for easing lower back pain. Good posture also means sitting with care.
Lower back stretching. Lower back extensions safely strengthen back muscles during pregnancy, making their tough work a little easier (and less painful for you).
Prenatal yoga. Prenatal yoga is a relaxing way to tone parts of the body most affected by pregnancy, including the back.
Pelvic tilts. Pelvic tilts (also called “pelvic rocking”) strengthen abdominal muscles, relieve backache, and help improve posture.
Swimming/water exercise. Water supports your weight, swimming and prenatal water aerobics classes relieve pressure from your back and joints while still giving you a great whole-body workout.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture places thin, sterile needles at specific “energy points” in order to activate the body’s own natural pain relief system.
Chiropractic care. Chiropractors adjust misaligned joints, especially in the spine, to relieve nerve stress and promote healing throughout the body. This is effective in treating pregnancy-related back pain
Lumbar support pillows. Keep your head and shoulders in line and use a lumbar support pillow (a small pillow specially designed to fit the lower back) to keep your back properly positioned and pain-free.
Supportive sleep environment. Sleeping on your side and using strategically placed pillows for support can provide relief from aches and pains, and help you get some much-needed rest. Make sure your mattress is firm.  A body pillow (at least 5 feet long) can also help you find stress-minimizing sleeping positions.
Crisscross support sling is designed specifically for a pregnant figure, which will help take the burden of your belly’s weight off your lower back.
Maternity support belt. These are thick elastic bands worn around the hips and under the belly cradle and support lax abdominal muscles.
Footrest. Use a footrest to elevate your feet slightly, and don’t cross your legs; that can cause your pelvis to tilt forward, exacerbating those strained back muscles.
Regular physical activity. Take breaks by walking or standing and stretching at least once an hour. Sitting too long can make your back hurt even more.
Lift properly. Avoid lifting heavy loads, but if you must, do it slowly.
Keep your weight gain where it should be (extra weight is extra hard on any back).
Wear the right shoes. Experts recommend a 2-inch heel to keep your body in proper alignment. You might also consider orthotics, orthopedic shoe inserts designed for muscle support.
No reaching for the stars — or the cookies on the top shelf. Use a low, stable, step stool to get items from high places and you’ll avoid additional strain. (Better still, leave the cookies where they are.)
Think good thoughts. A calm mind leads to a looser back.
Warm and cold compresses. Soothe sore muscles by applying cold compresses, then warm compresses in 15-minute intervals. Rubbing your back might also help.
Warm bath. Take a warm bath (ask your partner to draw it for you). Or turn the shower head to pulsating and enjoy the back massage.
Body massage. Talking about massages, go get one (after the first trimester and with a masseuse who knows you’re pregnant and is trained in the art of prenatal massage).
Medications. Over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol is generally safe during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medication.
Sacral belt.
Learn relaxation techniques to cope with the discomfort and back pain during bed time.