Spine Health Back Pain in Pregnancy

January 25, 2020
Dr. G. Balamurali

Women are life-givers. They nurture and nourish their child in the womb, taking utmost care and going through great ordeals to ensure that the baby is born healthy. As much as they take care of the little miracle that they are carrying, are they really taking care of their health during the course of pregnancy?

So, The next topic in my spine health series is addressed to women who have embarked on their journey towards motherhood.

Back Pain in Pregnancy

Back pain in pregnancy is quite common, and they often go hand in hand. It is more prevalent towards the last trimester of pregnancy as the baby is growing, and is the natural thing to happen. But this could mean discomfort for the mother, especially when it comes to the little changes in the routine. You can lose sleep, and it can be pretty annoying.

If you look at the numbers, as high as 50% - 70% of women face back pain during pregnancy. You should also note that women who are generally overweight or those who had a previous history of back pain are more prone to increased pain during pregnancy. So worry not, you have company! Now, I can hear that sigh of relief!

Let me now throw some light on factors that can cause back pain during the gestational period.

Causes of Gestational Backaches

As you go through the different phases of pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes, some of which can directly contribute to these gestational backaches.

  • 1. Pregnancy brings with it a lot of hormonal changes. These can result in softening of ligaments and muscles, causing the joints to become a little lax. This triggers back pain
  • 2. Next comes your posture. As the baby is growing bigger and getting heavier, you naturally tend to stoop forwards. To compensate and balance your weight, you try to lean backwards. There is a constant struggle between your front and back and in the matter of course, it alters your posture.
  • 3. The baby’s weight gain can itself put a lot of strain on your backs.
  • 4. Pregnancy can cause a lot of emotional stress resulting in hormonal changes, and all this adds up over a while and can increase your pain.

You must be wondering, none of these seems to be in my control. How can I prevent these pains then? You can! By following some simple methods to strengthen your backs. Let us see how.

How to Prevent and Manage Backaches

As I detailed already, backaches are quite commonplace during pregnancy, and you cannot get rid of it totally. As the pregnancy progresses, you will face difficulties and discomfort with your back. But there are ways to manage them, and in fact, even prevent them in some scenarios.

  • 1. There are simple exercises to strengthen your back muscles. Do these regularly
  • 2. Avoid bending down to pick up things. Squat and pick instead.
  • 3. Avoid high-heeled footwear as it causes unnecessary stress on your back.
  • 4. Watch your weight. Do not add excessive weight by pampering yourself.
  • 5. Get adequate sleep. Do not lie directly on your back. While you sleep, lie on your left side, and have a pillow in between your legs.
  • 6. Use a maternity band or a belt to support your baby bump.
  • 7. Get ample rest. Keep your legs rested, and your feet raised.
  • 8. Maintain the right posture while sitting. Sit straight with your chest up and the shoulder down.
  • 9. Exercise regularly, and do not forget your routine walks

Despite all this, if you still experience pain, you can follow the below simple remedies.

  • 1. Use ice packs or hot compresses on your back to relieve your pain.
  • 2. Avoid self-medication and avoid pain-relieving medicines as much as possible. Instead, try alternative therapies such as acupuncture, or just some simple massages will help.
  • 3. Talk to a friend or counsellor if you feel depressed.

But then, sometimes the pain can leave you wondering if you should seek a doctor’s advice immediately. Let me give you some pointers that will help you judge if the pain is severe and warrants medical help.

When to Seek Medical Help

Though back pain is a routine hindrance for women in the maternity phase, some pains require medical intervention. Consult a spine surgeon in Chennai, India if

  • 1. The pain is acute and is going down both your legs.
  • 2. You experience discomfort while urinating.

Remember, back pain cannot be a reason to avoid pregnancy and motherhood. Many women who have a history of backaches are quite apprehensive about getting pregnant. But let me assure you, the pain will ease out and you will get better, in a few weeks or a few months after delivery. If you still suffer from backaches, it is time to get professional help from a specialist.

Do share this vital piece of information with your friends or family members who may be pregnant. Expectant mothers need all the help that they can. Because ‘Motherhood Is The Greatest Thing As Well As The Hardest Thing’.

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Internationally trained Spinal Neurosurgeon with 24 years of surgical experience, from UK. Extensively trained in all niche aspects of spinal surgery as part of 3-year fellowship in the UK (Liverpool & Nottingham), USA (San Francisco & Chicago) and Switzerland (Zurich). Senior Spine and Neurosurgeon in India since 2011.
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About Dr. G. Balamurali
Head of Spine Surgery
Consultant Spine and Neurosurgeon
MBBS, MRCS (Ed), MD (UK), FRCS (Surgical Neurology)
Fellow in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery - UK, USA, Switzerland
Fellow in Complex Spine Surgery – UK, Switzerland
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