Many women develop aches and pains while pregnant. Osteopathy is a gentle therapy that is appropriate throughout pregnancy and post-natally.

Changes in the lower back while pregnant

Back pain while pregnant

Back pain affects most of us at some point, and it’s a common side effect of pregnancy. Hormones and physics work together to make more work for the lower back throughout pregnancy.

Muscles have to work harder to counteract the changes in your centre of gravity, leading to tightness in the lower back. Your osteopath can address these aches and pains directly, as well as easing the load in other ways. If your upper back is also tight- particularly if you’re stuck at a desk all day, this can also ask more of the lower back. By working through the whole body, we can spread the load more evenly and help you adapt to the changes of pregnancy.

PGP and SPD

PGP stands for Pelvic Girdle Pain and refers to pain associated with the pelvis, which often affects the lower back and front of the pelvis. SPD is more specific, standing for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. The pubic symphysis is the cartilaginous joint at the front of the pelvis.

For some women, pelvic pain is the first sign that they are pregnant. This possible early symptom reflects how early the body starts producing relaxin: the hormone that loosens off the ligaments of the pelvis. This is important for birth when the pelvis needs to be mobile to allow the baby to move down through the pelvis and into the birth canal. However, these changes to joints can be uncomfortable in the meantime. We can help your body adjust to them.

Occasionally we see women in their second or third trimester who’ve been suffering to the point that they need crutches. Try and get in before this point if you can- the less advanced it is the quicker we can make a change. Although PGP symptoms often resolve at birth, you may not be able to have the active birth you might want if your pain is too severe.

You are welcome to seek treatment during your first trimester, just be sure to mention that you’re pregnant to your osteopath. You can read more about PGP here.

Other aches and pains while pregnant

The body changes dramatically during pregnancy, and one change you might not have associated with discomfort is water retention. We can blame that hormone relaxin for this too! If you find your ankles swelling or jewellery feeling tighter, it could be down to this. Unfortunately this increased pressure can cause pain.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

In carpal tunnel syndrome, the tissues in the wrist compress one of the nerves that supplies the hand, causing pins and needles and other discomfort. If the tissues in question are puffier due to water retention, you are predisposed to develop this compression.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: compression of the medial nerve is more likely during pregnancy

Sciatica

Some women develop sciatica during pregnancy. Whether this is a result of general changes through the back, changes in activity, or something else, it’s not something you necessarily have to suffer with until birth.

Sciatica is just a way of describing symptoms in the sciatic nerve- a big nerve that runs down the back of the thigh. Symptoms may include:

  • Numbness
  • Pain (often sharp or shooting but can also be a dull ache)
  • Pins and needles

There are a few points where the nerve can be irritated, including in the deep muscles of the buttock. As your bump develops, the muscles in the lower back, buttocks, and hamstrings have to work harder to compensate. If one muscle in particular (piriformis) gets tight, it can compress the sciatic nerve and cause the symptoms mentioned above. This is known as Piriformis Syndrome. Unfortunately, the body might react to the pain by tightening the muscle further. The good news is that this is easily managed with treatment and exercises- both of which are suitable during pregnancy.

Post-natal Osteopathy

Just as the body responds to changes during pregnancy, it can react again as things get back to normal! Some commonly seen conditions among new mums include:

  • Diastasis recti
  • Upper back pain associated with feeding or carrying baby
  • General aches and pains

Don’t feel you have to suffer with these symptoms in the hope they will resolve at birth. Book in today to see what we can do for you.

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