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Lower back pain during pregnancy is a common occurrence in a number of women for many reasons. The pain tends to be in the lower joints of your back or the sacroiliac joint, which is where the pelvis articulates with the sacrum. During pregnancy, most women gain approximately 11-25kg. The lower back and sacroiliac joints have to sustain this extra load, which often leads to increased discomfort and pain. Due to the increased weight, pregnancy shifts your centre of gravity. Gradually, you start to adjust your posture and the way you move to accommodate this change.
Lower back and sacroiliac joint pain is also caused by the increased release of a hormone called relaxin, in particular during the later stages of pregnancy. Relaxin is secreted in order to increased laxity of the sacroiliac and lower back ligaments, in preparation of birth. This leads to a loss of stability, which in turn causes increased pain. Some women are predisposed to developing lower back discomfort, if they have diminished core and pelvic floor strength prior to pregnancy. Luckily, there are a number of safe treatment options available to treat and manage pregnancy related lower back pain.
Physiotherapy treatment has proved to be very effective in easing muscle tightness and joint stiffness associated with the change in posture that occurs during pregnancy. After a thorough assessment, your physio can devise a treatment plan tailored to your needs and stage of pregnancy. Treatment may include soft tissue release, joint mobilisation of the thoracic spine, taping and postural education. Your physiotherapist can also prescribe suitable stretches to improve mobility of stiffer areas of your spine and assist with treating postural adaptions.
Exercise is vital in treatment of pregnancy related lower back pain. Low impact exercise such as swimming, walking and using the stationary bike in conjunction with pilates based exercises are effective in managing and treating pain. Your physiotherapist can guide you through a number of core and pelvic floor stability exercises to compensate for the increased ligamentous laxity around the pelvis and lower back. Core and abdominal strengthening can help you cope with the increased weight of your growing baby and postural change. Improving pelvic floor strength can help to support your bowel, bladder and uterus (womb) as your baby grows and moves down.
A sacroiliac belt is also quite effective in treating pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy. It is designed to compress the sacroiliac joint or pubic symphysis. The belt goes around your pelvis and the support can be applied at the exact level where you require most stability. Your physiotherapist can carry out stability tests of your lower back and pelvis to determine how and where the best should be applied.
If you have been experiencing pregnancy related lower back pain our physiotherapists can assess and treat your pain, and guide you through a tailored strengthening program. Contact us here if you would like to make an appointment.