Pregnancy Pains and Preventative Care

Throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy, mom's body changes to create a more favorable process for baby to thrive and ultimately join us. In the process of hormonal shifts and weight gain, low back and hip pain can arise. Tricky enough, medicine can be harmful to the growing baby - WHAT DO I DO?! Have no fear, Boulder Sports Chiropractic is here!

Often aches and pains occur throughout the process, headaches from fluctuating hormones, neck and back pain from morning sickness and relearning to sleep with a baby bump. However the most common complaint typically is low back and hip pain.

As mom begins to add baby weight in the first few months, new weight begins to pull mom’s lower back forward adding weight and stress in a new vector/direction abnormally loading the joints of the lumbar spine. This makes everything slightly more irritated.

Throughout the second semester, baby continues to grow and starts to move more frequently in the uterus. Often this moving and kicking pushes on the lower ribs leading to a unilateral, side pain. Sometimes this pain can be made worse with deep breathing. Unfortunately the continued weight gain begins to compress down on the pelvic bowl and associated musculature. This downward force begins to push awkwardly on the sacroiliac joints in the lower back.

The sacroiliac joint (SI) is known to create additional pain, radiating from the belt line into buttock, or around the hip to the groin - depending on what part of the joint is irritated.

As we progress toward the end stage of pregnancy at 40 weeks, the body starts to release a new hormone called relaxin. This hormone is responsible for loosening the dozens of ligaments that hold the tailbone and the hips together. This is important as the birth canal is not large enough to pass baby's head without some joint laxity. However, the sacroiliac joint is the keystone supporting the weight of the upper body, it is designed to be very stable. This design is what allows us to walk on two feet. When this super stable joint starts to become more mobile, the muscles of this hips begin to tighten - attempting to replace some of the stability. Queue the hip pain!

When the muscles are asked to work overtime for weeks, they begin to knot up and form trigger points. This increased tightness also squeezes on nerves that pass through that muscle.

In the hips we have quite a few muscles that run from the sacrum and pelvis to the femur, responsible for creating internal and external rotation in the hip/leg. An important, and often tight muscle, is the piriformis. The piriformis is often irritated in desk workers from hours of sitting and stretching the muscle. It's important to note that this bigger muscle runs directly over the sciatic nerve and when it gets tight, it compresses or squeezes nerve leading to irritation and pain down the leg.

It is common to see intermittent, positional pain down the back of the leg later in pregnancy as the ligaments get sloppy, the muscles tighten, and the nerves get compressed.

Another commonly pain generator are the sacroiliac joints themselves. When the joints become loose and the tight muscles attempt to stabilize, the joint surfaces can be compressed or jam together leading to pain. It is also common to have the muscles pull on the joints limiting motion and causing pain.

All of these changes are side effects of the natural progression of pregnancy. They are also things we can help with at Boulder Sports Chiropractic. Using muscle work like ART (active release technique) or Graston Technique, we can help to release the knots in the muscles. We then gently adjust the joints of the lumbar spine, sacroiliac joint, and hips to get things aligned and moving freely. We then can use kinesiotape to help provide some stability and help you "hold" your adjustments.

It is very important to keep your spine and hips aligned as we get closer to the 40 week mark of your pregnancy as it creates an ideal biomechanical environment. Having optimal movement and alignment in the low back and hips generally allows for less complications in the birthing process. Optimal alignment may help decrease your risks of problems such ask diastasis recti and breech births. Pregnancy related back pain is not normal, let us get you out of pain.

If you have been experiencing lower back and hip pain, contact us at Boulder Sports Chiropractic call us today at 303-444-5105.