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Finding Relief from Low Back Pain when You Are Pregnant


Pregnancy brings about many changes in the body, including ones that loosen spine-supporting soft tissues and throw off the center of gravity. There is also added stress and strain on the lower portion of the spine and its discs, so it is no surprise lower back pain is a common pregnancy-related complaint. Fortunately, there are things you can do to relieve lower back pain during pregnancy.

Keep an Eye on Your Posture

A growing baby requires more space, which plays a role in shifting your body's natural center of gravity. To compensate, there may be a tendency to shift how you sit and stand. This could put even more stress on your lower back if you're not mindful of your posture by:

• Keeping your shoulders back
• Not locking your knees
• Sitting and standing with your spine straight
• Not leaning forward or backward excessively

Adjust Your Sleep Posture

Reduce instances of waking up with
low back pain by sleeping in a way that eases stress on your lumbar spine during pregnancy. Sleeping on your side tends to be a more spine-friendly position than sleeping on your back. Also, with sleeping while pregnant, make an effort to:

• Keep one or both knees bent
• Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress
• Maintain natural spine alignment by placing a pillow between your knees

As your pregnancy advances, a pillow behind your back or under your abdomen may further ease lower back strain while sleeping. Use firmer pillows for this purpose to maintain sufficient support.

Continue to Do Lighter Exercises

As long as you have the okay from your doctor, it's usually safe to continue to exercise during pregnancy. This is good for your lower spine, since it keeps supporting muscles in this area strong. Typically, for
lower back pain, exercises that are safe to do while expecting include:

• Gentler yoga moves
• Water-based exercises
• Gentle lower back stretches

A physical therapist can help you personalize your exercise routine as your pregnancy continues. Exercise also increases the production of hormones that naturally ease pain.

Try Hot and Cold Therapy

When lower back pain spikes, hot and cold therapy can provide relief. The heat helps by boosting circulation and getting more blood flowing to the affected area. Cold applications ease lumbar spine discomfort by minimizing inflammation. Hot and cold therapy can involve heating pads, cooling or heating gels, or ice packs.

Use Spine-Friendly Accessories

Lastly, there are accessories that can ease stress on your lower back as you advance through your pregnancy. For instance, a maternity support belt may be helpful to some extent for this purpose. You may also benefit from the use of spine-friendly accessories that include:

• A breathable belly band that eases stress on your hip/pelvic area
• A pregnancy cushion for when you need to sit for longer periods
• Maternity footwear that eases foot/ankle stress and the potential for related strain in your lower back area

If you’re still experiencing chronic back pain long after you have had your baby, your doctor may recommend surgery to provide relief. For example, if you have a herniated disc that is not responding to conservative treatment, a discectomy may be the best option. Although this is generally a very successful procedure, patients with a large hole in the outer ring of the disc have a significantly higher risk of reherniation following surgery. Often, the surgeon won’t know the size of the hole until beginning surgery, and having a large hole in the outer ring of the disc more than doubles the risk of needing another operation. A new treatment, Barricaid, is a bone-anchored device that closes this hole, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients didn’t undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and doesn’t require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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