There is no doubt that pregnancy is a wonderful and exciting time. However, as the pregnancy progresses a number of discomforts can arise. According to a study published by the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30103876), 76% percent of women experience low back pain, pelvic pain, or a combination due to pregnancy. During this time, a pregnant woman’s body is changing dramatically by the day. Normal pregnancy adaptations such as a shift in the center of gravity, curving inward of the lower back, overstretched ligaments of the lumbar and pelvic area, postural changes, and altered walking patterns can result in pain and discomfort. These pregnancy pains tend to increase as the pregnancy progresses.
The good news is that chiropractic care is an effective, safe, and drug-free way to manage these musculoskeletal changes as well as help alleviate pain during pregnancy. The following are some common musculoskeletal changes that may occur, which chiropractic care can help with.
Low back pain
As pregnancy progresses, there is a natural shift in the center of gravity that takes places. This shift however, places excess stress on the lumbar spine causing low back pain. As the baby grows, altered walking patterns, and tight muscles may also contribute to low back pain. The severity of this pain is dependent on the individual. Activity level, daily activities, and the type of work the individual does can greatly affect pain levels. It is also important to note that low back pain is very common during the postpartum period as well.
Sciatic nerve pain
During pregnancy the gluteal muscles and rotators tend to tense up and become tight. Tension in these muscles may aggravate and even compress the sciatic nerve during pregnancy. The sciatic nerves are the two largest nerves in the body, running from the lower lumbar spine, through the buttocks, legs, and down through your big toes. Pain can range from a mild dull ache to a debilitating electric shock. Some studies suggest that as the baby grows, it places an increased amount of pressure on the uterus, causing direct pressure on the sciatic nerve. This type of nerve pain can result anywhere the sciatic nerve runs, resulting in lower back pain that radiates through the legs.
Overstretched ligaments are another common issue with pregnancy. Due to hormonal changes, ligaments tend to relax which cause the stable; weight-bearing sacroiliac joints to alter and shift. The increased flexibility around these joints places excess stress on the surrounding ligaments and joints causing pain.
Pubic symphysis pain
According to the American Chiropractic Association (https://www.acatoday.org/News-Publications/ACA-Blogs), the hormone Relaxin, which is increased during pregnancy, causes the ligaments that stabilize the pubic symphysis joint to relax. This results in increased joint movement and even separation from the ligament. As you can imagine, this consequently results in pain and limited mobility. This condition is known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.
Round ligament pain
One of the most common types of pain experienced during pregnancy is round ligament pain. The round ligaments are contractile fibers. This pain results from a growing uterus stretching the round ligaments that are around the abdominal wall. Individuals who experience round ligament pain describe it ranging from a stretch to sharp pain on either side of the abdomen, or near the pubic bones.
If you are experiencing any of these pregnancy pains, consider a consult with the chiropractic doctor Shawnee, KS trusts who can safely, and effectively help you manage these symptoms during your pregnancy.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at LifeWorks Integrative Health for their insight into alternative medicine and 5 ways chiropractic care can help during pregnancy.