Low back pain is a common problem when you are expecting, with studies showing that somewhere between 50 - 80% of women report spinal pain over the course of their pregnancy. Being a common complaint, many people consider low back pain to be a ‘normal’ part of pregnancy. This is an unfortunate misconception, given the impact that low back pain has on quality of life and the fact that many women report ongoing pain and dysfunction following their pregnancy.
‘Despite the apparent impact it has on women, many cases of low back pain of pregnancy go unreported to prenatal providers and/or untreated’, according to the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. One of the barriers to reporting and treatment of low back pain is that the use of pain relieving drugs are strongly discouraged during pregnancy.
Fortunately, there are many drug-free, natural options for relieving low back pain, both during pregnancy and beyond.
A number of recent studies have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic management of pregnancy related low back pain.
A fascinating, randomised controlled trial (RCT) was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in April 2013. This rigorous study found that the group that received chiropractic management, consisting of spinal manipulation, stabilisation exercises and patient education, enjoyed a more pleasant pregnancy than the group who did not receive such care. The benefits derived were both subjective and objective. Patients perceived less pain and disability in daily activities and physical examination revealed improved range of motion, stability and less irritation of the lumbar and pelvic joints.
Another 2014 study showed that of 115 patients with lower back or pelvic pain who were treated with chiropractic care, 52% noted a significant improvement within the first week of care; this percentage jumped to 70% after 4weeks, 85% after 12-weeks, and 90% after 26-weeks. Critically, at 1-year follow-up, 88% of patients continued to report improvement. This is significant, given that having back pain during pregnancy typically results in future episodes of back pain. These findings suggest that chiropractic care during your pregnancy can have lasting benefits for your health.
1.) Peterson et al. Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2014, 22:15
2.) Lisi, A. J. (2006), Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Low Back Pain of Pregnancy: A Retrospective Case Series. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 51: e7–e10.
3.) George JW, Skaggs CD, Thompson PA, et al. A randomized controlled trial comparing a multimodal intervention and standard obstetrics care
for low back and pelvic pain in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2013;208:295.e1-7.