Solutions for baby backaches
During pregnancy, your body undergoes an amazing transformation,
which could be called a temporary remodeling project
to make room for baby. At the same time, however, those miraculous
changes can take a toll on your back.
"About half of pregnant women experience back discomfort,"
according to Rose Magness, MD, Virtua obstetrician and gynecologist.
"As long as the pain doesn't interfere with daily routine,
it's usually nothing to worry about."
It's easy to understand why your back might hurt. The curve
of the spine becomes exaggerated; the body's center of gravity
shifts; abdominal muscles stretch; and hormones cause joints
and ligaments to relax.
"Bed rest is not always the best treatment," says Dr. Magness. "I recommend a balance of rest
and activity. While you don't want to overdo it, gentle stretches, walking or swimming will
keep the body strong." Of course, it is important that women check with their physician
before beginning any type of exercise.
Consider physical therapy
Your doctor may recommend seeing a physical therapist to safely and gently relieve pain.
"Physical therapy can dramatically increase overall comfort during pregnancy," says Michelle
Peshick, physical therapist with the Virtua Rehabilitation Network. "Water therapy
is a great option because it strengthens abdominal and lower back muscles while relieving
pressure on the pelvis and legs."
Rest sciatic pain
Sciatic pain is a sharp or shooting pain that runs from the buttocks down the back
of the leg. It's often caused by pressure on the nerve from the growing baby.
The simplest remedy is to lie on the side opposite the pain.
"Occasional sciatic pain is normal," says Steven Kirshner, MD,
co-director of the Virtua Spine Program. "However, severe pain
is not. If pain becomes worse and more frequent, talk to your
doctor who may recommend medications or a back brace."
When to worry
Although extremely rare, there are serious factors that
can contribute to an expectant mom's back pain. Call
your physician right away if back pain is accompanied
by feelings of extreme weakness, numbness, incontinence
or if pain limits daily activities.
So what can you do to relieve back pain — beside deliver?
Your physician may recommend applying a hot-water bottle or
ice pack, or taking acetaminophen to relieve pain. Here are three
more strategies to make moms-to-be more comfortable.
Meet the Physicians
Steven Kirshner, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic
surgeon who received his medical degree and completed an
orthopaedic residency at Hahnemann University Hospital. He
also completed a fellowship in spine surgery at the Texas
Institute for Spinal Disorders. He is co-director of the Virtua
Rose L. Magness, MD
, is a board-certified obstetrician
and gynecologist who earned her medical degree from The
Medical College of Pennsylvania. She completed an internship
at Abington Memorial Hospital and a residency in obstetrics and
gynecology at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She has
been voted "Top Doc" by South Jersey Magazine