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Back Pain During Pregnancy

Back or pelvic girdle pain is a common complaint during pregnancy and can affect 1 in 5 women. Most women experience back pain at some point during pregnancy, usually in the later months. However, there are a few things you can do to minimize your back pain and concentrate on the arrival of your baby.

Causes of Back Pain During Pregnancy

Back pain during pregnancy may be caused by a number of factors including hormonal changes, weak or lengthened muscles, weight gain, uneven load on joints, previous back pain and activity levels.

Hormonal changes in pregnancy can loosen the joints and ligaments making them softer and more elastic, in preparation for the birthing process. These changes can affect the strength or length of muscles, especially as the weight of the baby increases.

Your centre of gravity shifts as the baby grows, which causes your posture to change. The abdominal muscles become stretched and may weaken, which can lead to back pain. The pressure on the nerves or tissues can also cause radiating pain through the hips, buttocks, and legs.

Prevention from Back pain During Pregnancy

Listed below are preventive measures you can implement to help reduce the occurrence of back pain during pregnancy:

  • Maintain a reasonable amount of activity and include exercises to strengthen your back and abdomen as recommended by your physiotherapist.
  • If prolonged sitting is required, take frequent breaks to stretch the legs and back.
  • Practice good posture to reduce the strain in the lower back. This can be done by standing up tall, keeping the shoulders back and relaxed. If possible, in sitting position keep the feet slightly elevated. Choose a chair with good back support or use a small pillow for support and change the position frequently.
  • To pick up things, you should squat down using your knees and keep the back straight. Avoid positions that require twisting and bending movements and also any activities that are painful.
  • Avoid wearing high heel shoes and instead wear supportive shoes with low heels and good arch support.
  • You may find a support belt under your lower abdomen or elastic tubigrip, later in your pregnancy, is useful to aid in offloading pressure on the muscles and joints.
  • Get a sufficient amount of sleep. Practice relaxation techniques to keep your stress level down. Sleep on one side of the body rather than on the back with the knees bent. If needed, place a pillow around the abdomen for extra support and between the knees to keep the spine aligned.

Treatment for Back Pain During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and experiencing back pain or pelvic pain, you may consult your doctor or midwife and discuss the options of physiotherapy for control of the pain. You may also consult a physiotherapist without a referral.

The physiotherapists at Bodybalance Physiotherapy are skilled and experienced in treating pregnancy-related back or pelvic pain. Commonly recommended therapies for managing pregnancy-related back pain include hot or cold therapy, gentle exercise, stretches, hands on treatment, general exercise advice and back care advice.

As the pregnancy progresses, a specifically designed physiotherapy program may be recommended to manage the discomfort at various stages of pregnancy. Specific pelvic–floor and lower back exercises also may be prescribed to reduce the pain and improve the strength.

Massage therapy can help relieve the discomfort of pregnancy-related back pain and also help with stress, tension, pregnancy-related anxieties and provide comfort to the expecting mother.

Call your doctor right away or attend A & E if you experience any of the following:

  • a dull, cramping lower back pain, which can be a sign of preterm labour.
  • Severe and sudden back pain occurs along with fever or vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • Numbness or weakness down both legs
  • Pain down both legs
  • Loss of sensation in the genital area
  • Loss of control of bowel movement
  • Difficulty passing urine

Some of our Physiotherapists have specialist skills and experience in treating musculoskeletal pain during pregnancy. An initial assessment can be done by our experienced and highly skilled physiotherapists to determine the best treatment.

Your treatment plan may include massage therapy, specific exercises, posture, stretches, advice, and other pain-relieving techniques.

You can also find information on POGP (Pelvic Obstetric and Gynecological Physiotherapy) website:

or with this leaflet:

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