My wife is currently
pregnant with our first child and with that she has started to develop all of
the aches and pains and common symptoms associated with being pregnant.
Naturally I find this to be the perfect opportunity to address how Chiropractic
Care can improve the pregnancy experience.
Over the years I have
had the pleasure of treating many pregnant women. Pregnant women often wonder
if chiropractic care is safe for them and their developing baby and the answer
is a resounding yes! Pregnant women have been seeing chiropractors for decades
as an alternative to dealing with medications and their ill side-effects. I actually saw one patient the morning she
was scheduled for a cesarean. So whether you have just become pregnant or are
just days away from labor chiropractic treatment is safe and effective.
there are physical and hormonal changes that occur in preparation for creating
the environment for a developing baby. Physical changes include rapid changes
in weight, posture, and gait all of which can lead to a misaligned spine and
are some very common musculoskeletal
problems that arise due to these changes. These include low back pain,
sacroiliac pain, and sciatic pain. The following will break down some of these
start with the first is pregnancy-related low back pain. Low back pain during
pregnancy is quite common. In fact, according to an article in the Journal of Manipulative
and Physiological Therapeutics between 50-75% of all pregnant women will
experience low back pain. With upwards of 33% having severe lower back pain. Some
women actually avoid the future pregnancies due to fear of returning symptoms.
Pregnancy-related low back pain usually starts during the second trimester of
pregnancy, although a sizeable portion of women may experience pain sooner. The
average woman gains between 20-40 pounds throughout pregnancy. This weight gain
moves your center of gravity forward, causing your pelvis to tilt and your
lower back to sway – this places excessive stress on the ligaments, discs, and
joints of your spine.
Symptoms often beginCC1 in the lumbar spine
and may radiate into your glute or thigh. Pain is often increased by prolonged sitting,
standing, coughing, or sneezing. Your symptoms may increase throughout the day,
and some patients report nighttime pain that disturbs their sleep. Various
activities seem to contribute to pregnancy-related low back pain – with
increased risk for both sedentary and very active individuals. Patients who
have suffered with back pain prior to pregnancy are more than twice as likely
to re-develop back pain during pregnancy.
Second of all is Sacroiliac joint pain. The
sacroiliac joint is formed by the
junction of the sacrum which is the triangle
shaped bone just below your lumbar spine and the ilium which is the large pelvic bone. Sacroiliac
joint problems often begin as a discomfort in your back just below the waste line,
slightly to one side of center. Your pain will often travel into your buttock
or thigh. Symptoms are often worse by standing on the affected side. The pain
may become more apparent when you 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 and resting.
Thirdly there is sciatica. Sciatica is characterized by shooting
pain, numbness, and/or weakness down one of the legs. Typically you will feel
the pain from the low back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf.
This often starts as lower back pain before radiating down. Pain can vary and
be either be dull and achy or can be stabbing and shooting pain down the leg
all the way to the toes. The pain can last for days or weeks or it can come and
go randomly. Sciatica has numerous causes in the case of pregnancy it is
usually caused from excessive weight putting pressure on the spine and discs. This
pain can also be created by compression of the sciatic nerve from tight gluteal
is unfortunate that these conditions occur at a time when your medical
treatment options are limited. Most prenatal health care providers actually
recommend drug-free treatment. Studies have shown that chiropractic
manipulation provides significant relief of pregnancy-related low back pain.
Almost 75% of women undergoing chiropractic care report significant pain
reduction with improved ability to function. This is according to the Journal of
Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
If you were to see a chiropractor, typical treatment for
these conditions may include the following: joint manipulation to gently restore
movement to your spine; therapy modalities to ease your muscle tightness, pain,
and swelling; myofascial release to remove muscle knots and adhesions; and therapeutic
stretching and exercise to restore flexibility and range of motion.
Receiving Chiropractic Care while pregnant
has other benefits as well. Some of these benefits include: Preventing a potential cesarean delivery and reducing
the time of labor and delivery. The International Chiropractic
Pediatric Association actually recommends women receive chiropractic care
throughout pregnancy to establish pelvic balance and optimize the room a baby
has for development throughout pregnancy. With a balanced pelvis babies have a
better chance of moving into the correct position during birth. This in turn
can lead to shorter labor time and a more comfortable delivery for the mother.
In practice I tend to see a lot of women who have recently had babies
. These women usually experience some of
the common symptoms that we talked about previously like low back pain,
sacroiliac pain, or sciatica . This is often due to the physiological changes
as the body begins to return to prepregnancy status. In addition, it is common
to develop pain to the upper or middle back
due to the increased weight of milk in the breasts and the act of feeding
the baby. Any breastfeeding mothers know this pain all too well. Continued
chiropractic care and core strengthening is beneficial in assisting proper
restoration of normal biomechanics in the thoracic and lumbar spine.
If you or a loved one is pregnant or plan
to become pregnant consider consulting a chiropractic provider. Chiropractic
evaluation and treatment during pregnagncy may be warranted and considered a
safe and effective means of treating common musculoskeletal conditions.