Low back pain is by far the most common complaint experienced by pregnant women but mid-back and foot discomfort is also fairly common. The source of low back pain is most often the pelvis (sacroiliac joints) or the junction where the spine meets the pelvis (lumbosacral area). The pelvis is often affected due to the combination if increased body weight and relaxation of the pelvic ligaments associated with pregnancy. In effect, the pelvic girdle expands and this leads to all types of mechanical imbalances. A characteristic feature of normal pregnancy is a progressive increase in the curve of the low back. The increased forward weight of the enlarging uterus and its contents shifts the centre of gravity considerably forward from the norml. The result is a big change in posture that increases the low back curve, thus placing an increased amount of stress on the lowback and low back pain.

Mid-back discomfort is usually described as an annoying ache. This area is stressed due to the enlargement and increased weight of the breasts, as well as the result of the forward shift of the centre of gravity. In order to help maintain balance, a pregnant woman will tend to hold the shoulders back and move the head forward. This altered position places greater stress on the mid-back joints and muscles and tends to worsen already existent postural faults. The result is that mid-back joints become locked and muscles tighten, causing a deep aching sensation.

During the first trimester, most treatments can be utilised as with any patient and exercise is regarded as safe.

During the second and third trimesters, some additional alterations may need to be made. One of the more obvious changes is the inability for the patient to lie face down. The only contra indications to treatment during pregnancy are when the patient presents with conditions such as excessive bleeding, premature labour, placenta previa, placenta abruptio, ectopic pregnancy, and the incidence of ruptured amniotic membranes without labour.



For many pregnant women, spinal care is probably the best option for pain. The use of pain medication is not recommended due to its potential side effects. There is no need to suffer for nine months and spinal manipulation and soft tissue work is worth a try. There are added benefits as well. In addition to helping control aches and pains during pregnancy, spinal care has been demonstrated in studies to reduce the mean labor time and reduce the likelihood of back pain during labour.

Brooke, our osteopath, has a specialised interest in the treatment of pregnant women and the changes that occur in the pelvis through the stages of pregnancy and post partum. For information on how our practitioners can support you through pregnancy please contact the Spinal Joint clinic.