Norton Shores Michigan Chiropractor - I recently treated a patient of mine in the last few weeks of her pregnancy. She was a back and neck pain sufferer who started seeing me over a year ago. Her symptoms resolved a while back and she has seeing me on a preventative basis since. Upon getting the news that she was pregnant, she wondered if the increased weight and other whacky changes that occur with pregnancy might cause a relapse in her symptoms. Plenty of women never have back pain until they have their first child, so she figured that since she already had back problems, she may be more susceptible than most.
However, by checking her periodically she has had a pain free pregnancy. She had to laugh the last time I saw her. She was commenting that many of the women in her Lamaze class were complaining that their backs were KILLING them. When asked why she was so “lucky” she simply said: “I have a chiropractor for that. As long as I see him, my back doesn’t hurt.”
Of course, this prompted a bunch of questions. “Is that safe when you’re pregnant? Doesn’t it hurt? How can you stand the thought of someone cracking your bones?! Can that hurt the baby?” Then it was my turn to laugh.
There are so many misconceptions out there about chiropractic care, especially when it comes to safety. Using the Activator Methods and Atlas Orthogonal techniques, our treatment is very gentle. No cracking, snapping, or popping required. The process is virtually pain free yet very effective. We even use a dedicated pillow that allows more room for the baby so our pregnant patients can lie down comfortably. But why does pregnancy cause low back pain in the first place?
The hips and lower back are at risk of developing problems during pregnancy because the added weight to the abdomen causes the spine to sway backwards to compensate. This causes increased tension in the muscles and soft tissues and places more pressure on the joints of the spine. This is further complicated by the fact that pregnant women release a hormone called relaxin which causes the joints to loosen up. (It also loosens up arteries to allow for increases in blood pressure...cool, huh?).
Relaxin allows the pelvis to stretch and increase the size of the baby's living quarters since the uterus expands from the size of a tennis ball to a beach ball. However, this also allows the joints to slip out of alignment because the ligaments are more lax, especially when you add the extra weight. This leads to misalignment, inflammation, and pain in the lower back and sometimes into the leg (also known as sciatica). Pregnant women already have a lot to worry about: eating right, getting enough rest, nesting, Facebook updates, doctor’s visits, gift registries, and the list goes on. This doesn’t leave much time to nurse low back pain and sciatica, and drugs are not an option. A visit to a chiropractor may be just the thing to help you keep your spine healthy and strong throughout your pregnancy. If the labor and delivery process trigger problems, a chiropractor may be able to help you with your postpartum back pain, as well.