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Low back pain in pregnancy

Low back pain in pregnancy


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Low back pain refers severe pain that occurs in the lower back. It arises from rheumatic or traumatic problems. Excessive overexertion, poor posture, a strong contracture, a problem in the vertebrae, a disc pathology or even osteoporosis, can be reason enough to trigger pain during pregnancy.

When this occurs, the muscles, ligaments and adjacent structures are involved causing pain, both at rest and in movement.

The lumbar area together with the cervical areas are the most vulnerable segments of the spine due to their mobility, since they can perform movements in all directions, being the most mobile areas of the body, the weakest over time. And in the case of the lower back, it is necessary to add that it is the area that supports the most weight. During pregnancy, women are more likely to suffer from it because the increase in the abdomen causes the loss of the natural girdle that protects them. The lumbar musculature is more contracted due to bearing the weight of the uterus and the ligaments of the spine, which are more stressed by the displacement of the axis of gravity.

Low back pain is due to different treatments. During pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid pharmacological treatments such as anti-inflammatories, pain relievers and muscle relaxants, since medications should not be taken without being prescribed by the doctor, since most can cross the placental barrier and reach the developing fetus.

Instead, manual therapy as can be physiotherapy, osteopathy, manipulations or massages are especially indicated to relieve back pain during pregnancy, since this type of therapy is harmless for the baby. Other treatments based on thermotherapy and electrotherapy such as infrared or transcutaneous nerve stimulation, better known as T.E.N.S, and last but not least, acupuncture also offer excellent results. In the case of pregnancies, the administration of drugs and electrotherapy are contraindicated with few exceptions. And to round off the treatment, it would be very beneficial for future moms to be taught to stretch, to maintain good postural and ergonomic hygiene, so that the treatment for low back pain is effective.

It is important have strong and resistant legs that support the weight of the body and the baby, thus reducing the pressure on the lower back. Squats supporting the back against the wall, walking or swimming are good exercises that can help us achieve this goal. It is also advisable to use a scarf as a sash or a pregnancy girdle so that the gut does not weigh so much and does not pull the lumbar vertebrae forward. Another tip to keep low back pain at bay is to apply dry heat with an electric blanket to the area for 10 minutes when you feel the least tension.

The heat will help prevent this tension from building up and causing a lumbar contracture over time. Performing moderate and controlled exercise by specialists that combine toning, postural hygiene and stretching, such as yoga, tai-chi or Pilates will help keep your back strong and well toned. Ergonomics are also important on a day-to-day basis, that is, how we sit, how we get up, how we carry the weight of the bags or in what position we sleep. It is essential to spend a lot of time in the same position and use cushions or pillows to try to be comfortable.

Use heat, stretching, massage, and moderate rest. It is important remove tension from the lower extremities, and for this I recommend stretching the hamstrings, abductors and adductors. Gentle tilts of the pelvis and stretches of the lumbar area will be performed. An example of stretching is known as cat stretch. It is performed in a quadruped position, rounding the back on inhalation and arching it moderately on exhalation. It is advisable that although the pain is in the lumbar region, global stretching of the entire body is also carried out so that the relief will be more effective and lasting. If the pain does not decrease, it is always advisable to see your doctor.

Marián Zamora Saborit
Physiotherapist. Pilates Technician
Psychomotor in Early Childhood Education

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