Factors Influencing Back Pain During Pregnancy

Dr. Ali Hassan Al-Attar / Physiotherapist – State of Kuwait 14 December, 2016

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Back pain and pelvic pain are very common among pregnant women. It is estimated that every pregnant woman will experience back pain or pelvic pain (or both) during the course of the pregnancy. The pain would be felt in the lower back, buttocks, and the hips. Additionally, referred pain and other area aches (thigh, calves, upper back) can occur due to the nature of the tissues involved. Similar to any other type of pain, back and pelvic pain would influence the sufferers life and affect their functional activities. In general, there are two main factors that would cause back and pelvic pain during pregnancy; external factors and internal factors. External factors are those that can be controlled and avoided, whereas internal factors are basically the biological factors which are difficult to be avoided. Yet, they can be modified or reduced.

External factors: 

A pregnant woman h can avoid such external factors. when taking into consideration the sleeping and sitting position, activity level and type of activity, in addition to the pre-pregnancy spine health. Healthy management of such factors would help in reducing pain intensity. Let us clarify these factors in more details:

Sleeping position: sleeping is one of the most important daily activities a human must have in order to maintain physical and mental wellbeing. Pregnant women must lay in a safe and healthy sleeping position such as on the back with a pillow underneath the knee or on the side with a pillow between the knees. On the other hand, they must avoid sleeping on the stomach to protect the neck, and obviously to avoid exerting pressure on the baby.

Sitting position: during any time a pregnant woman decides to sit, she must maintain a correct sitting position. A healthy position can be described as: sitting with 110-130 degrees of back extension, lower back, upper back and feet are supported, and the arms can be supported through resting on a pillow on the lap.

Level and type of daily activity: there is a thin line between negative resting (getting lazy with a sedentary lifestyle) and abusing the body while exceeding the limits of one’s abilities. It is important for any pregnant woman to rest in order to reduce the load from the spine and pelvic. At the same time, a pregnant woman should not lay flat on her back because this would weaken muscle, stiffen the joints and spine, and eventually lead to more pain. As a result, a reasonable balance between resting and moving are required so that pregnant women maintain an active and balanced lifestyle.

Pre-pregnancy spine health: the health of the spine before getting pregnant would determine the intensity of back pain during pregnancy. Women with a stiff spine, degenerative disc problems, or an osteoarthritic spine, for example, would have higher pain intensity during pregnancy. Thus, it is important to prepare the spine for the excessive load during pregnancy and ensure it is a strong flexible one. 

Internal factors:

These factors are difficult to be avoided due the nature of causes such as hormonal change, ligaments laxity, spine and pelvic anatomy change, and muscles elongation and weakness. Performing strengthening exercises for the targeted muscles however, can reduce these problems. 



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