Pregnancy & Chiropractic
It’s no secret that women’s bodies go through some major changes while being pregnant, some of which can cause significant pain. It’s reported that 50-85% of pregnant women experience low back and/or pelvic pain during their pregnancy, most often during the later stages. Today we’re going to be discussing why this happens and how chiropractic care can help ease some of that pain!
Why am I feeling pain?
There are several factors that contribute to low back and pelvic pain during pregnancy including hormones, direct pressure on lumbosacral nerves by the baby, and changes to center of gravity. First let’s talk about the hormone Relaxin. During pregnancy, this hormone is released from the placenta, the uterus, and the membranes around the baby. Levels are highest in the first trimester of pregnancy, and this promotes implantation of the baby and growth of the placenta. It also helps regulate the mother’s cardiovascular and renal systems to adapt to increased demand for oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Towards the end of pregnancy, this hormone promotes relaxation of the ligaments in the pelvis to prepare body for delivery, and is involved in the rupture of the membranes and opening and softening of the cervix during childbirth. This relaxing of pelvic stabilizing ligaments can lead to excess motion, or hypermobility, of the pelvic joints, which can cause discomfort as well as misalignment.
As the baby continues to grow and develop, the mother will experience significant weight gain (~25-35lbs). This will cause a shift in the center of gravity, increasing the curvature of the low back which alters posture and puts extra stress on the low back and pelvic areas causing pain. In addition, this stress causes overactivity of the low back and pelvic muscles and can lead to mid back pain as this area tries to compensate for the low back. You can see these changes in the diagram below. The combination of these structural changes via hormones, posture, and changes to center of gravity can lead to significant pain especially in later trimesters.
How Chiropractic Can Help
Chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat joint dysfunction in individuals of all ages and backgrounds, including pregnant females. Using a variety of adjustive and soft tissue techniques, they can easily correct spinal misalignments and muscle tightness throughout the spine, with a specific focus on the low back and pelvic region to provide substantial relief. When the pelvis is misaligned, this can reduce the amount of room the developing baby has to move around and grow, and in the later stages of pregnancy, this can make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery.
Additionally, there are some therapeutic elastic taping options to offer some relief for common pregnancy related complaints like swelling, low back pain, carpal tunnel symptoms, and a supportive baby belt application to name a few.
When Should You Seek Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is very safe and effective in treating pregnancy related low back and pelvic pain. However, you don’t have to wait until you’re already in pain to be treated! Chiropractors can provide wellness care to assess and treat spinal misalignments before they start causing significant pain! As always, for more information or for any questions you may have, feel free to comment below, send us an email, or call the office!
1. Peterson, C. K., Mühlemann, D., & Humphreys, B. K. (2014). Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 22, 15. http://doi.org/10.1186/2045-709X-22-15
2. Relaxin. You and Your Hormones website. http://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/relaxin/ Reviewed March 2015. Accessed January 24, 2018.
3. Oswald, C., Higgins, C. C., & Assimakopoulos, D. (2013). Optimizing pain relief during pregnancy using manual therapy. Canadian Family Physician, 59(8), 841–842.
4. Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association website. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/chiropractic-care-during-pregnancy/ Accessed January 24, 2018.