Chiropractic has typically included the care of pregnant patients to insure a comfortable pregnancy and to help facilitate in an uncomplicated labour and delivery process. Low back pain is often described as an inevitable complication of pregnancy. It has been reported that approximately 50 % of all pregnant women experience back pain during their pregnancy and 50 % to 75 % of women experience back pain during labour. However, only 21% of pregnant women with back pain seek consultation with medical practitioners. Therefore, it is important to have a look at some possible causes of low back pain during pregnancy.
Biomechanical changes and stress to the neuro-musculoskeletal system are present during and immediately after pregnancy. Adaptations of the body structurally may be a contributory source of low back pain throughout the gestation period. As the foetus develops, its weight is projected forward and the lumbar lordosis is increased, placing extra stress on the intervertebral discs and joints of the spine. Spinal dysfunction related to the change in the load distributions are a factor in back pain. Hormonally an increase in circulating progesterone, estrogen, and relaxin (especially in the third trimester) cause hypermobility in the pelvis and a decrease in spinal stabilization. Physically strenuous work and previous low back pain are factors that may also be associated with an increased risk of developing low back pain during pregnancy.
Common treatment techniques that chiropractors utilize include gentle myofascial relaxation of specific muscles, which can greatly aide in the reduction of pain and tension. Also, improving the strength of the core muscles is thought to prevent some of the typical postural alterations. Release of muscle spasm can be quite beneficial in relieving suboccipital headaches, cervicothoracic pain, thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms, or myofascial pain syndromes. Chiropractors can also help the pregnant patient manage an exercise routine compatible for her changing body throughout pregnancy. Research shows that approximately 75% of pregnant patients who received chiropractic care during their pregnancies stated that they found relief from pain.
After delivery, the ligaments in the body are tightening up to help bring the joints back together, this process can take up to 8 months. Rehabilitative exercises should be used for weakened back and abdominal muscles. Regular chiropractic care is valuable during the post-partum recovery phase and is beneficial in assisting proper restoration of normal spinal biomechanics.
Borggren, C.L. (2007). Pregnancy and Chiropractic: A Narrative Review of the Literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 6(2) p 70-74.