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Thoracic Pain While Pregnant – How to Cope?

Thoracic Pain While Pregnant – How to Cope?


Thoracic pain is very common during pregnancy and can occur at any stage. Along with all the other changes that are happening to your body during this time, back pain is one of the most common symptoms experienced by pregnant women. While it is a common symptom, thoracic pain is something which must not be ignored. Thoracic pain is easily reduced and managed by physiotherapy.

What is Thoracic Pain?

Thoracic pain refers to pain felt in the middle and upper part of the spine. This is the thoracic part of the spine and it joins both the cervical and lumbar spine. The main function of the thoracic spine is to provide stability.

When an individual experiences thoracic pain it is most commonly caused as a result of an injury or recent trauma to the spine, muscle irritation, soft tissue problems, inflammatory and degenerative conditions and often is a symptom of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy causes the pain. Especially during the third trimester. As the body changes to prepare itself for delivery, the uterus shifts your centre of gravity forward. This places increased pressure on the muscles in the back. This increased pressure on the back and with the release of the hormone, relaxin. It can cause muscle spasms and irritation.

How Can Physiotherapy Treat It?

Thoracic pain is managed effectively and safely by physio treatment. Although, your first impression for treatment may be to rest, don’t. This may lead to your back muscles weakening and becoming further irritated.

The following posture tips can help effectively manage thoracic pain:

  • While standing – Make sure to stand up straight and tall, keeping your chest high and shoulders back. For a good base support, use a wide stance and try to keep your weight equally distributed on both feet.
  • While sitting – Use a chair that has good lumbar support. Keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs. If you have to sit down for a long period of time e.g. during work, make sure that your back is appropriately supported.
  • Sleeping – You should sleep in a position where you are on you side with a pillow placed between your knees. This will help to keep your spine in a neutral position.
  • If at all possible, avoid lifting or carrying heavy objects. When you do carry a heavy object, keep the object close to your body at all times. This way there will be less pressure on your back.

Your physiotherapist may also advise that you perform a daily exercise regime such as 30 minutes of walking or swimming. You may also be provided with simple stretching exercises, which will help to alleviate any thoracic pain.

Physiotherapy techniques such as manual therapy and dry needling can also be very effective in treating any thoracic pain symptoms felt during pregnancy.

If you are pregnant and experiencing any upper back pain, our chartered physiotherapists will effectively diagnose your pain and provide you with the best techniques and exercises to help you manage your discomfort.

If you wish to book an appointment or if you have any pregnancy related pain issues, contact us here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic.

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