Low Back Pain During Pregnancy

(Includes Hip pains, Sciatic and Lumbar area pains)

This is a nearly universal problem for pregnant women, due to multiple factors. High hormones soften the supportive ligaments of the low back, causing pain even early in pregnancy for some women. The growing weight of the uterus adds to the strain on the low back muscles.

PREVENTION

  • Avoid bending at the waist, try bending the knees. Avoid carrying anything heavy enough to cause low back discomfort while holding it.
  • Be sure any chair used for prolonged periods of time is “ergonomic” (designed for extra low back support). Good posture while sitting and standing is very important. Avoid “slouching” as it can put sever strain on the low back over time. Special firm lumbar cushions for support can be very helpful. Chair height should allow both feet to rest flat on the floor. If a lot of time is spent sitting at a desk, then both arms should be even with the desktop.
  • Special stretches can be done daily to maintain spine flexibility. Low back strengthening exercises as outlined in most prenatal books can be helpful, but must be done for a few minutes each day to effective.

REMEDIES AND TREATMENTS

Prevention

Many “little” things done well can help prevent back pain. Good posture, limited weight gain, proper sitting positions, ergonomic chairs, low heels, proper bending and lifting, a firm mattress, minimize reaching above the head all can help.

Low back strengthening exercises

Many pregnancy books provide descriptions and images regarding exercises such as the pelvic tilt (and the dromedary droop) which can help reduce low back pain. Guess what? They work!...but they need to be done frequently.

Relax the Back Store

There are a variety of items here that may be helpful. Full-length body pillows, footrests, lumbar support cushions and back support belts can help. The employees are quite knowledgeable about back pain but they also want to sell you the $2,000 gravity recliner (but it sure is comfortable). 

Supportive devices

The most common is the maternity support belt sold at most maternity stores. This is a long elastic band with Velcro at each end that is worn below the pregnant belly in front, and across the low back.

For more discomfort full abdominal supports are available

Softform maternity belt (www.softforminfo.com)

Baby Hugger (1-888-770-0044 or www.babyhugger.com)

Loving Comfort (1-800-344-0011 or www.maternitysupport.com)

Gel Foam Bed Mattress Covers

These come in different sizes and different thicknesses. A 4-inch thick gel foam mattress pad provides extra comfort and padding, which can help sore backs and sore hips.

Medical Care

  • Heating pads to the low back are okay
  • Cool gel packs or ice packs can help if the pain is strong
  • Patients can be referred to specialists. Physical therapists can help low back pain. They can be seen independently or through the office of most orthopedists.

Physical Therapists or Chiropractors

They can be helpful, but some caution is needed. A chiropractor should have special expertise in pregnancy, use a special table for pregnant women, and use gentle techniques. Avoid the “holistic” chiropractors that claim to be able to cure cancer and diabetes and who promote Chinese herbs and other “non-traditional” therapies.

One clinic we like is the Budincich group in Pasadena. Call 626-792-3390.

One Physical Therapy group we have found to be very helpful is ATP Training in So. Pasadena. 626-403-6545.