There are a lot of websites out there where pregnant women get to talk to each other, ask questions, and get support. Something you’ll find as you read them is how everyone keeps mentioning their back pain and achy joints. Even women early in their pregnancies experience significant discomfort. My wife, on the other hand, rarely had any of those problems during her pregnancy. Sure, every once in a while she might say her low back is tight after being on her feet all day. Then I got to work on those joints and muscles. So what the difference between the women who experience significant low back pain during pregnancy and the women who experience little to none? REGULAR CHIROPRACTIC CARE!!
During pregnancy there are a lot of BIOMECHANICAL changes in the pregnant woman. This is on top of all those other changes (hormonal, chemical, etc…). Biomechanical refers to changes in her skeletal and muscular systems. These are the changes that cause stress on joints and muscles and eventually the extreme discomfort. Let’s delve into some of these changes and how with regular chiropractic care we can transform these nightmares into just little bumps along road.
First and foremost, if you know anything about World Class Chiropractic you know we go nuts about posture! Proper posture = the least amount of stress on your body and the least amount of pain and degeneration. Anything outside of proper posture means the opposite. So let me show you a comparison of the low back of a non-pregnant vs a pregnant woman.
In a non-pregnant woman, from the side the lumbar curve is gradual and even. This provides for a little bit of “wiggle room” for the joints in the back part of the vertebrae. It also is the least amount of pressure on the disc because each joint of a vertebra acts like the leg of a tripod supporting all the weight above it. All the weight is equal distributed between the 3 legs.
In a pregnant woman, the weight and gravitational forces acting on the belly pull the lumbar vertebra forward. This causes the gradual curve to become more like a sharp angle and “smooshes” the joints in the back part of the vertebra (pictured left).
Also, take a look at the middle picture above. The pelvis has rocked forward. This throws off your center a balance and further accentuates the curve in the low back. It essentially takes the weight off the disc and places all the pressure on the posterior joints. So rather than 3 legs of the tripod, all the weight now sits on just 2 legs.
A very common complaint during pregnancy is sciatic pain. That is due to the increased curve and the stress it puts on the surrounded muscles and ligaments, not just the joints. The piriformis muscle runs across under the gluteal muscles on both sides. It is very sensitive to changes in your low back and pelvis. So when the pelvis rocks and shifts, the piriformis will start to spasm. The sciatic nerve runs underneathe the piriformis, so a spasming piriformis will push down onto the nerve and cause sciatica. Very very common.
Pregnancy also causes a change in gait, or how you walk. This can cause foot, ankle, knee, hip, and low back pain. It’s all part of the kinematic chain.
I bet you’ve also heard that during pregnancy your joints and ligaments start to stretch and become loose. Well that is definitely correct, especially late in pregnancy. It’s caused by an increase in hormone levels that help prep you for the birth of the baby. What it can also cause is joints instability and pain in your sacroiliac joint. It can cause symphysis pubis dysfunction, a very uncomfortable condition that results in pain in the pubic symphysis. OUCH!!!
So now that we’ve gone through some of the most common pregnancy related changes that’ll bring you to your knees. Let’s discuss how you can fight back!
Chiropractic care is very safe during pregnancy. All chiropractors train in how to treat pregnant women and some even specialize in it. Google Webster Technique to find out how chiropractors can help turn a breech baby late in pregnancy. Ask around, I bet a few of your friends will confess to having seen their chiropractor during pregnancy. Better yet, we’ve got more than a few patients that would gladly confess they wouldn’t have been able to get through their pregnancy without us.
Our techniques change to accommodate the growing baby. We’ll also spend more time doing some soft tissue relaxation techniques to help relax those spasming muscles and work out those knots. Exercises are a biggy. They help prepare your body for the rest of pregnancy and the delivery itself.
Remember we treat the whole you. It’s about helping you make it through what should be one of the most joyous experiences of your life. Don’t let the pain prevent you from experiencing the happiness that comes with each unique pregnancy. Help us help you. Above all, we look forward to meeting the new little human being you’ll be bringing into this world. Healthy and happy!