Herniated disc during pregnancy: symptoms and treatment

Herniated disc during pregnancy: symptoms and treatment


A herniated disc during pregnancy can cause intense back pain that can radiate to the buttocks and leg, causing tingling and impairing quality of life, requiring medical help. The doctor may prescribe the use of analgesics, anti-inflammatories, or a corticosteroid injection to control pain, but physiotherapy with hot compresses, stretching and spinal traction may also be indicated.

Furthermore, osteopathy is also a great ally because it can realign structures such as muscles, tendons and the organs themselves, bringing immediate pain relief, without the use of medication. Acupuncture is another alternative because it rebalances the body's energies, combats pain and inflammation, bringing relief from symptoms.

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Symptoms of a herniated disc in pregnancy

The symptoms of a herniated disc during pregnancy may be more intense and the woman may experience:

  • Intense back pain that can radiate to the butt or one of the legs;
  • There may be a sensation of tingling, tingling or numbness in the back, butt, groin or leg.

As these symptoms can also occur when the sciatic nerve is affected, the doctor cannot always conclude that it is a herniated disc without tests. Ideally, an MRI and an x-ray would be performed, but these tests should not be performed during pregnancy.

Treatment options

Treatment options for herniated discs during pregnancy must be recommended by the obstetrician, which may include:

1. Medicines

During pregnancy, women should not take medication without being advised by their doctor because many of them pass to the baby. In case of mild pain, which does not ease with rest and hot compresses, Paracetamol can be used, with a maximum daily dose of 1g, Ibuprofen and Tramadol can also be used, but only with medical advice.

When this is not enough to control the pain, the doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection, which usually completely eliminates the pain, but should only be applied in the most serious cases, where the pain in the back and legs is very intense.

2. Physiotherapy

It is possible to control pain through resources such as hot compresses and stretching that must be carried out with the help of a physiotherapist, so as not to worsen the pain. Resting on your side, with a pillow between your legs, is also recommended in times of pain.

Massage is not always recommended, because certain points on the spine can help stimulate labor, and equipment normally used in physiotherapy is contraindicated during pregnancy. The physiotherapist can also apply adhesive bands to help better support the belly, which brings pain relief.

Outside of moments of crisis, clinical Pilates exercises are another excellent way to keep the spinal muscles firm, helping to avoid a new crisis. Discover some exercises that can be done during pregnancy to alleviate symptoms.

3. Osteopathy

Osteopathy is a type of treatment in which joints are twisted, including the spine, which causes states that help release the energy accumulated within these joints, bringing a feeling of relief and greater possibility of movement. In some cases, repositioning organs, such as the liver, also helps combat pain, bringing great relief to symptoms. Sessions are held with the osteopath, approximately once a week.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is also a good option for times of mild to moderate pain. It helps to de-inflame the structures and balance the body's energies, so that they flow better, which normally brings pain relief, without problems for the baby.

5. Surgery

When symptoms are very intense and there is no improvement in pain when undergoing physiotherapy, taking medications or other alternatives, spine surgery may also be indicated, which is an option to be considered.

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Risks of disc herniation during pregnancy

Not all women with a herniated disc will experience a moment of crisis during pregnancy, because the hormone relaxin, present during pregnancy, makes the tendons and ligaments more flexible, which may be enough to prevent severe back pain during pregnancy. pregnancy.

However, in the most serious cases, when a woman has more than one herniated disc, of the extruded or sequestered type, a herniated disc crisis can be so severe that it causes a lot of inconvenience. The woman may become ‘stuck' and have difficulty moving, wearing high shoes or holding an older child on her lap, for example.

However, there is no absolute risk related to the baby, but as the baby feels everything the mother feels, despite not feeling her pain, he may be exposed to more cortisol, which can make him more agitated. Some research shows that there is a greater risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and speech delay in children of women who are stressed during pregnancy.

How is the birth

In the case of a herniated disc during pregnancy, delivery should be discussed with the obstetrician because there is no absolute indication or contraindication for cesarean or natural birth. Normally, when a woman is not in crisis in the last month of pregnancy, it is possible to have a natural birth, but even if she has a crisis in the last few weeks or if a crisis begins during childbirth, epidural anesthesia can completely eliminate the pain.

How to protect yourself

Some good advice for women who have a herniated disc to avoid a crisis during pregnancy are:

  • Avoid making great efforts, respecting your body's limits and taking advantage of the help of your companions or other people who can help;
  • Do not wear high shoes daily, preferring shoes no more than 3 cm high and very comfortable;
  • When lifting objects from the floor, always squat first, instead of leaning your body forward;
  • Before getting pregnant, women can do Clinical Pilates to strengthen their back, improve posture and gain more flexibility.

Another important precaution is to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy because this further aggravates spinal lordosis, contributing to worsening symptoms. Therefore, pregnant women should not gain more than 10 kg during the entire pregnancy.