My wife is currentlypregnant with our first child and with that she has started to develop all ofthe aches and pains and common symptoms associated with being pregnant.Naturally, as a Chiropractor, I find this to be the perfect opportunity to addresshow Chiropractic Care can improve the pregnancy experience.Over the years I havehad the pleasure of treating many pregnant women.
Pregnant women often wonderif chiropractic care is safe for them and their developing baby and the answeris a resounding yes! Pregnant women have been seeing chiropractors for decadesas an alternative to dealing with medications and their ill side-effects. I actually once saw a patient the morning shewas scheduled to be induced. So whether you have just become pregnant or arejust days away from labor chiropractic treatment is safe and effective.During pregnancy,there are physical and hormonal changes that occur in preparation for creatingthe environment for a developing baby. Physical changes include rapid changesin weight, posture, and gait all of which can lead to a misaligned spine andpelvis.
These changes can lead to painful conditions that we will address here.Wewill review some very common musculoskeletal problems that arise due to thesechanges in the body. These include low back pain, sacroiliac pain, and sciaticpain. The following will break down in more detail some of these commonproblems.Let’sstart with the first which is pregnancy-related low back pain.
Low back painduring pregnancy is quite common. In fact, according to an article in the Journalof Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics between 50-75% of all pregnantwomen will experience low back pain at some point with upwards of 33% havingsevere lower back pain. It can be so bad that some women actually avoid futurepregnancies due to fear of returning symptoms.Pregnancy-related low back pain usually starts towardsthe end of the second trimester of pregnancy, although a significant portion ofwomen may experience pain sooner. The average woman gains between 20-40 poundsthroughout pregnancy.
This weight gain moves your center of gravity forward,causing your pelvis to tilt and your lower back to sway – this places excessivestress on the ligaments, discs, and joints of your spine. Symptoms often start in the lumbar spine and may radiate into your glute or thigh.Pain is often exacerbated or increased by prolonged sitting, standing, coughing,or sneezing. Your symptoms may increase throughout the day, and some patients getnighttime pain that leads to tossing and turning and disturbs their sleep.Various activities seem to contribute to pregnancy-related low back pain – withincreased risk for both sedentary and very active individuals. People who havesuffered with back pain prior to being pregnant are more than twice as likelyto re-develop back pain during pregnancy. Second of the common pain conditions is Sacroiliac joint pain. Thesacroiliac joint is formed by the junction of the sacrum which is the triangleshaped bone just below your lumbar spine and the ilium which is the largepelvic bone to either side of the sacrum.
These bones when joined together effectivelyform the pelvis. Sacroiliac joint problems often begin as a discomfort in yourback just below the waist line and slightly to one side of center. Your painwill often travel into your buttock or upper thigh.
Symptoms are often mademuch worse by standing on the affected side. The pain may become more apparentwhen you go for a walk or change positions ( like coming up out of a chair, car,or bed, or during long car rides). The pain is often relieved by lying down andresting.Thirdly there is sciatica. Sciatica is characterized by shootingor radiating pain, numbness, and/or weakness down one of the legs. Typicallyyou will feel the pain from the low back to your buttock and the back of yourthigh and calf sometimes to the heel. This often starts as lower back pain beforeradiating down. Pain can vary and either be dull and achy or can be stabbingand shooting pain down the leg all the way to the toes.
The pain can last for daysor weeks or it can come and go randomly. Sciatica has numerous causes, in thecase of pregnancy it is usually caused from excessive weight putting pressureon the spine and discs. Sciatic pain can also be created by compression of thesciatic nerve from tight gluteal muscles. This leads to a condition calledpiriformis syndrome which closely mimics sciatica.
Itis unfortunate that these conditions occur at a time when your medicaltreatment options are limited. Obviously when you are pregnant you do not wantto take large doses of pain killers or anti-inflammatories. Most prenatalhealth care providers actually recommend drug-free treatment. This is wherealternative treatments such as chiropractic have been shown to be very helpful.Studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation provides significant reliefof pregnancy-related low back pain.
According to research in the Journal of Manipulativeand Physiological Therapeutics; almost 75% of women undergoing chiropracticcare report significant pain reduction with improved ability to function. Let’s say you decide to make the leap and go visit achiropractic office. You might be wondering what kind of treatment you willreceive. Typical treatment may include chiropractic adjustments, various therapymodalities, myofascial release, and exercise/stretching.
Chiropracticadjustments will gently restore movement to your spine and correct pelvicimbalance. Therapeutic modalities will be used to decrease your muscle tightness,pain, and swelling. Myofascial release can be a variety of soft tissuetechniques which remove muscle knots and adhesions.
Stretching and exercise ofcourse is used to restore flexibility, strength, and range of motion.Receiving Chiropractic Care while pregnant has otherbenefits besides pain reduction as well. Some of these benefits are preventing a potential cesarean delivery and reducingthe time of labor and delivery. The International ChiropracticPediatric Association actually recommends women receive chiropractic carethroughout pregnancy to correct pelvic balance and optimize the room a baby needsfor development throughout pregnancy. With a balanced pelvis babies have abetter chance of moving into the correct position during birth. If a baby doesnot assume the correct downward facing direction this is known as a breechpresentation. This in turn can lead not only to shorter labor time and a morecomfortable delivery for the mother but actually reduce the chance of the babyneeding a cesarean.In practice I tend to see a lot of women who haverecently had babies.
These women usuallyexperience some of the common symptoms that we talked about previously like lowback pain, sacroiliac pain, or sciatica . The pain can still be there due to thephysiological changes as the body begins to return to prepregnancy status. Inaddition, it is common to develop pain to the upper or middle back. This is dueto the increased weight of milk in the breasts and also the act of hunchingover to feed the baby. Any breastfeeding mothers know this pain all too well. Continuedchiropractic care and core strengthening is beneficial in assisting properrestoration of normal biomechanics in the thoracic and lumbar spine.
If you or a loved one is pregnant or planto become pregnant consider consulting a chiropractic provider. Chiropracticevaluation and treatment during pregnancy may be warranted and considered asafe and effective means of treating common musculoskeletal conditions.