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.
WHY DO WE EXPERIENCE BACK, HIP, AND LEG PAIN DURING PREGNANCY?
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.
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.
See Next Page - Prenatal 2