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This is the fourth and final instalment to the four part series in preparing for pregnancy. We have already provided you with information on a healthy diet and lifestyle, strengthening your pelvic floor, staying active before and during your pregnancy.
In this blog will we look at common discomforts you may experience during pregnancy. Although these are common during pregnancy, if you are worried about the pain and feel the baby is being impacted on, please contact your GP or Obstetrician.
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy. 80% of women experience low back or pelvic pain during their pregnancy and 20% experienced moderate to severe pain (Mens et al (2012)). During pregnancy, most women gain approximately 11-25kg. The lower back has 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. 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.
Mid-back or thoracic pain is also a common complaint of pregnant women. During the 2nd trimester your rib cage has to expand as the baby sits high in the uterus. This can result in rib or mid back pain. If you work at a desk this section of your spine is often quite stiff and the resulting rapid expansion can cause significant discomfort. The most common symptoms are pain on turning your trunk, deep breathing or coughing. This pregnancy symptom can be safely and effectively treated by our chartered physiotherapists here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic. Manual therapy and exercise will resolve the problem quickly and easily. Thoracic pain is less common in the later stages as the baby descends in the pelvis.
Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is an extremely common condition, affecting up to 20% of pregnant women. It can occur as early as the first trimester, or may just come on in the final weeks of pregnancy. PGP occurs due to the changes in hormones that occurs when pregnant. In particular, relaxin is produced which increases laxity of ligaments around the pelvis, in preparation for the birth of the baby. Pain may be felt at the front of the pelvis at the pubic symphysis, or around the lower back at the sacroiliac joints. Pain is normally worst with walking, standing- specifically single-leg standing, climbing stairs and turning in bed. PGP can be managed with physiotherapy management and advice. A pelvic support belt fitted by your physiotherapist can compensate for the loss of passive support provided by the ligaments of you pelvis. Your physiotherapist may also guide you through a series of pelvic stability exercises that can be performed throughout the course of pregnancy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve becomes compressed at the wrist. Compression of this nerve can cause pain, tingling, numbness, pins and needles or weakness in the hand. Symptoms are typically worse at night or first thing in the morning. Fluid retention in the wrist and hands during pregnancy increases the pressure on the carpal tunnel, which can result in irritation of the nerve. Range of movement exercises, stretches, advice and a splint may be the course of treatment your physiotherapist will use to try and relieve symptoms.
If you have been experiencing pregnancy related aches or pains our physiotherapists can assess and treat your pain, and guide you through a tailored treatment program. Contact us here if you would like to make an appointment.