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Chiropractic and Pregnancy

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Why do pregnant women get low back pain?

About half of all women experience back pain during their pregnancy, this is due to a number of factors. As the baby grows and the belly protrudes forward the lumbar lordosis (curve in the low back) increases which places extra stress on the discs and joints in the spine and pelvis which in turn causes pain. During pregnancy there is an increase in hormones circulating through the body that increase the mobility of the joints in the pelvis which can decrease the stability in the spine. Another cause of pain can be from the pressure of the foetus directly on the lumbosacral nerve roots which can result in low back pain and sciatica and also on the organs which can result in referred pain and muscle spasm. (2)

Women who experience back pain during their pregnancy are three times more likely to experience “back labour” (the intense low back pain women feel during contractions when giving birth). Fortunately, many women experience significant pain relief from chiropractic adjustments with one study reporting pain relief from low back pain in 84% of cases (5)                  

Benefits of Chiropractic care through pregnancy may include

Decreased low back pain

Studies have shown chiropractic care to be effective for reducing pregnancy related low back and disability (1) 

Shorter Labour

Chiropractic care has been shown to reduce labour times. First time mothers who sought chiropractic care throughout their pregnancies averaged a 25% shorter labour than those who didn’t and second (or more) time mums who received care had labours that were 31% shorter than average. (2)

Less morning sickness

Those who received prenatal chiropractic care had less nausea and vomiting (3) 

Less medication and medical intervention  

Women who received regular spinal manipulation were less likely to require a caesarean or the use of forceps during birth. (3)  

  • Chiropractic can increase range of motion making it more comfortable to exercise 

Evidence shows that women who exercise throughout their pregnancies enjoy a range of benefits including; better sleep quality, more energy, less weight gain, shorter easier labours with fewer medical interventions and a faster recovery than those who were sedentary. (2)

1. Stuber and Smith, Chiropractic Treatment of Pregnancy-Related Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review of the Evidence, Journal of Manipulative Physiotherapy,2008 Jul-Aug;31(6):447-54

2. Borggren, Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature, J Chiropractic Medicine. 2007 Spring; 6(2): 70–74.

3.Ramasubramaniam, Suubi et.al. Chiropractic care in womens health: A midwifery perspective, African Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, APRIL–JUNE 2012, VOL 6, NO 2 

4. Diakow PR, Gadsby TA, Gadsby JB, etal.  Back pain during pregnancy and labor, AMJ Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1991 Feb; 14(2):116-8.


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