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Back pain during pregnancy: causes and 8 tips to alleviate it

Back Pain

Back pain during pregnancy is a common situation that occurs during this period and occurs due to the baby’s development, being more common in women who smoke, those who already had back pain before becoming pregnant and adolescents in the growth phase.

​To relieve back pain during pregnancy, some home remedies and techniques can be used, such as placing a pillow between the legs, stretching or using medications recommended by your doctor to alleviate symptoms.

However, in cases where back pain is very intense or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as difficulty walking or lifting, increased sensation of numbness in the legs and/or feet and swelling of the legs, for example, it is important contact the obstetrician or go to the hospital emergency room so that a complete assessment can be carried out and the most appropriate treatment can be started.

Main causes

The main causes of back pain during pregnancy are:

  • Change in spinal curvaturedue to uterine frontal growth;
  • Breast volume growth and changes in the lumbar region, increasing dorsal kyphosis and causing back pain;
  • Changes in muscles and ligamentsworsening the pain when the woman remains standing or sitting for a long time;
  • Carrying out domestic or professional activities in which repetitive movements are made;
  • Inflammation of the sciatic nervewhich can be noticed by intense stabbing or burning pain in the lower back and which can radiate to the leg, making it more difficult for the woman to walk or sit.

Furthermore, at the end of pregnancy, after 37 weeks of gestation, uterine contractions can also manifest as back pain that appears rhythmically and only eases after the baby is born. See how to identify contractions.

Although it is rare, back pain that does not ease with rest, and that remains constant during the day and night, may indicate something more serious and therefore this is a symptom that should not be ignored.

What to do to relieve back pain

Some tips to relieve back pain during pregnancy are:

1. Use a hot compress

Taking a hot shower, directing the shower water jet to the area where it hurts or applying a hot water bottle to your back is a good way to relieve pain.

Additionally, applying warm compresses with basil or eucalyptus essential oil to the affected region for 15 minutes 3 to 4 times a day can also help;

2. Use pillows between your legs

Using a pillow between your legs when sleeping on your side, or under your knees when sleeping on your back, helps reduce pressure on your hips, lower back and back, as well as keeping your spine aligned, relieving pain.

3. Get massages

Back and leg massage can be done with sweet almond oil daily to relieve muscle tension. See more about massage during pregnancy.

4. Stretch

To perform the stretches, you must lie on your back, with your legs bent, holding only one leg at a time, placing your hands behind your thighs. With this movement the lumbar spine is straightened, bringing immediate relief from back pain.

This stretch should be maintained for at least 1 minute at a time, controlling your breathing well. Check out other stretching options during pregnancy.

5. Do physical therapy

There are different physiotherapy techniques that can be used, such as kinesio tape or neuromuscular bandage, in which elastic tapes are used for a few days and placed on pain points, providing support to the back without restricting movement.

Additionally, there are other techniques that can be applied to relieve back pain, such as spinal manipulation, in which the vertebral structures are manually adjusted. Therefore, ideally, the pregnant woman should be evaluated by a physiotherapist so that the best treatment option can be indicated.

6. Using medicine

In some cases, it may be necessary to apply an anti-inflammatory ointment such as Cataflan, and in these cases, you should consult your doctor before using it. The use of oral medications, such as Dipirona and Paracetamol, is a possibility for times of greatest pain, but it is not recommended to take more than 1g per day, for more than 5 days. If this is necessary, the doctor should be consulted.

7. Lie on your back

Lying on your back, with your legs bent and your arms stretched out at your sides, keeping your entire spine aligned on a firm floor or mat can also help relieve back pain. This position makes the vertebrae accommodate themselves, reducing the weight on the back and relieving pain in a few minutes.

8. Exercise regularly

Practicing physical activity regularly allows you to avoid and alleviate pain, and swimming, yoga, pilates, walking, dancing or hydrotherapy may be recommended, which should be done for around 30 minutes a day.

Is it normal to have back pain in early pregnancy?

It is very common for pregnant women to start feeling back pain at the beginning of pregnancy due to the increase in progesterone and relaxin in the bloodstream, which causes the ligaments of the spine and sacrum to become looser, which promotes pain, which It can be in the middle of the back or at the end of the spine.

The presence of back pain before becoming pregnant also increases the chances of a woman suffering from this symptom during pregnancy, as early as the 1st trimester, and in some women the pain gradually increases as the pregnancy progresses.

How to avoid back pain during pregnancy

To avoid back pain during pregnancy, it is important to be within your ideal weight before becoming pregnant. Furthermore, it is important:

  • Don’t get fat more than 10 kg throughout pregnancy;
  • Wear a brace support for pregnant women when their belly starts to feel heavy;
  • Do stretching exercises for legs and back every morning and evening;
  • Always keep your back straightsitting and when walking.
  • Avoid lifting weightsbut if you have to, hold the object close to your body, bending your knees and keeping your back straight;
  • Avoid wearing high heels and flat sandalspreferring shoes 3 cm high, comfortable and firm.

Basically, back pain during pregnancy occurs because the lower back increases its curvature with frontal uterine growth, which in turn changes the position of the sacrum, which becomes more horizontal in relation to the pelvis. Likewise, the thoracic region also has to adapt to the growth in breast volume and changes in the lumbar region, and reacts to these changes, increasing dorsal kyphosis. The result of these changes is back pain.

When to go to the doctor

Back pain during pregnancy is not always dangerous, but the pregnant woman should see a doctor if the back pain persists even after all ways of relieving it or when it is so intense that it prevents her from sleeping or carrying out her daily activities. Furthermore, you should see a doctor when back pain appears suddenly or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea or shortness of breath.

Low back pain during pregnancy should not be ignored because it causes harm to health, and impairs sleep, readiness for everyday life, reduces performance at work, social life, domestic activities and leisure, and also It can cause financial problems due to being away from work.