PREGNANCY - THE BEST TIME OF OUR LIVES OR THE WORST? MAYBE A LITTLE OF BOTH!
Pregnancy is a time
of great joy for women and their families. Yet, despite the excitement and anticipation of the arrival of this new life into
the world, the journey can be an emotional and physical roller coaster ride. The nausea, vomiting, headaches, food aversions,
fatigue, back pain, and emotional highs and lows are just some of the vast array of “side effects” that a woman
experiences during pregnancy.
DO WE EXPERIENCE BACK, HIP, AND LEG PAIN DURING PREGNANCY?
During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through
numerous changes, both chemically and structurally. Due to these changes, a woman’s spine is under a significant amount
of stress and strain. In fact, there are few events in life that put more stress on the spine than pregnancy. The spine
must adapt to postural and weight changes that increase with each passing month. During their pregnancy, expectant mothers’
gain on average, 30-40 lbs. Most of the weight is distributed to the abdomen, causing the normal center of gravity to shift
forward. In order to compensate, the normal curves of the spine, specifically in the lower back, become exaggerated. These
postural and structural changes can often create misalignments in the bones of the spine and the hip joints, affecting muscles,
ligaments, and nerves in the spine. In addition, during pregnancy, there is a significant increase in a hormone called relaxin.
The role of relaxin is to cause the ligaments in the spine and pelvis to become looser, allowing for the pelvic region to
expand for the growing baby. This is a natural process but can often contribute to an increase in misalignments, tight muscles,
and pinched nerves in the lower back. It has even been shown that joints may remain looser for up to four months after delivery.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SPINE DURING PREGNANCY?
The bones of the spine,
called vertebrae, protect the spinal cord. When these bones move out of their proper alignment, they may press on the nerves
that they are supposed to protect. This pressing (or pinching) of nerves may disrupt the proper function of the body and may
cause problems such as altered posture, pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.
Unfortunately, the majority of pregnant
women experience lower back pain at some point throughout their pregnancy, often during their last trimester. In addition,
many pregnant women experience sciatica, which is shooting pain into the buttock and/or leg, which can be associated with
numbness and/or tingling. Headaches, neck pain, and upper back pain are often associated symptoms that are caused by compensation
due to the structural changes in the lower back and pelvis.
WHAT CAN WE DO FOR THE PAIN?
With so many women experiencing so much pain during pregnancy, what
is the solution? Pain medication, other than Tylenol in moderate doses, is forbidden, due to potential damage to the growing
fetus. Women often try a vast array of solutions for their pain, using pillows to cushion their aches and pains, warm showers
and baths, gentle massages from their partners, stretches, exercise, bed rest, back supports... the list goes on and on.
All of these are helpful, temporarily. Yet they do not address the fact that there are structural misalignments in the spine
and pelvis that are causing the pain to occur in the first place.
Please See Next Page - Prenatal 2