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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Back Pain In Pregnancy: Causes And Relief Options

Woman on her third trimester of pregnancy

It is common for women to experience back pain during pregnancy. The body undergoes numerous changes to accommodate the growing foetus. It includes gaining weight as the ligaments stretch to prepare for labour. This puts extra strain on the back muscles, causing aches and pain. Conveniently, there are several pain relief options to manage these discomforts. Taking oral pain relievers, doing light exercises and using hot and cold therapy are some ways to alleviate back pain in pregnant women.

The extra weight puts a strain on the joints of the lower back and pelvis, causing pain and discomfort. The symptoms may feel like a dull ache or sharp burning sensations. Moreover, it may also radiate to the buttocks, legs, and feet. Many women experience mild to moderate symptoms, including stiffness after prolonged sitting or standing. The article will present the causes of backache in this period and pain relief options.

Common Causes Of Back Pain in Pregnancy

One of the most common causes of back pain in pregnancy is postural changes. Primarily, the expanding uterus shifts the centre of gravity, weakening the ligaments and abdominal muscles. As the centre of gravity changes, women shift their posture to balance the increasing weight. Thus, it adds more work for the muscles and joints in the back and pelvis.

Hormonal changes also contribute to back pain. Women produce more progesterone and relaxin during pregnancy, which causes laxity or loosening of the ligaments. As a result, they relax the muscles. However, it can lead to instability and discomfort. It can also make exercises more difficult and have greater risks of sprains and strains.

Moreover, diastasis recti or muscle separation also causes back pain. The muscles that run from the rib cage to the pubic bone pull apart from the centre. They are pushed outward to make room for the baby, which may result in weakness when doing basic tasks. Lastly, the expanding uterus and loose ligaments may pinch the sciatic nerve, leading to shooting pain in the lower back to the legs.

Contributing Factors To Back Pain

  • Poor posture and improper body mechanics. Women tend to lean backward to counterbalance the increased weight.
  • Weak core muscles. When the abdomen, back, and pelvic muscles are weak, they cannot adequately support the spine. It leads to increased stress on the back muscles and spinal structures.
  • Excessive body weight. Extra load on the upper body adds additional pressure on the spinal discs. This can lead to muscle imbalances and inflammation.
  • Underlying medical conditions. Pre-existing lower back problems may aggravate during pregnancy, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and disc herniation.
  • Lack of physical activity. Sitting for long periods can make the muscles become less flexible.

Sleeping on the side to minimise back pain in pregnancy

Drug-free Relief From Back Pain in Pregnancy

Many women prefer drug-free relief from back pain during pregnancy to avoid the associated side effects of medicines. Paracetamols are generally safe for pregnant women. However, stronger painkillers, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may have side effects, like gastrointestinal problems. It may also risk complications for women with pre-existing medical conditions.

Alternative treatments like light exercises can help alleviate discomfort in the back. It aims to strengthen the back muscles and improve posture. Additionally, a physical therapist can facilitate yoga. It incorporates stretching and relaxation techniques to increase spine support. It can also help relieve tension and promote better well-being. Likewise, prenatal massages can reduce stress and improve circulation.

Home remedies like heat and cold therapy can help manage muscle pain. A warm compress or heating pad can help relax the muscles and reduce pain. On the other hand, applying cold compresses or ice packs can help numb the area and reduce inflammation. Lastly, simple measures such as sleeping with a pillow between the legs and wearing flat shoes can also help relieve back pain.

Benefits Of Light Exercises During Pregnancy

Regular exercise during pregnancy can benefit a woman in many ways. It promotes muscle tone and endurance. Therefore, it helps prepare the body for labour. Moreover, exercise programs help reduce bloating and swelling. It can also control weight gain to prevent excess load from affecting the lumbar spine.

Furthermore, it is found to have positive effects on mental health and well-being. It helps lower stress levels, improve mood, and enhance sleep quality. Light exercises promote better blood circulation and boost energy levels. Lastly, it helps shorten labour and minimise the probability of having a C-section.

Pregnant woman massaging feet as treatment

Complementary Techniques To Relieve Back Pain in Pregnancy

Women who prefer other means may consider complementary therapy. Acupuncture has been found to be effective and safe in relieving back pain in pregnancy. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and alleviate pain. It is also beneficial in reducing the pain intensity during labour. However, be sure to consult with a healthcare provider before trying any pain relief method.

In addition, chiropractic care has provided relief to pregnant women with back pain. It involves manual manipulation of the spine to improve joint mobility and reduce discomfort. However, it is important to use specialised techniques for pregnant women. Chiropractors can provide gentle adjustments and manipulations to align the spine and pelvis, alleviating pressure on the back.

Moreover, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive treatment using low-voltage electrical currents. It works by stimulating the nerves to block pain signals and release endorphins, natural painkillers of the body and “feel-good” hormones. Through electrode placement on the lower back, it can provide targeted pain relief. It is crucial to avoid putting the TENS machine pads directly on the abdomen.

When To See A Doctor

It is vital to see a doctor if the back pain is severe and lasts for more than two weeks. Persistent pain could be a sign of urinary tract infection or preterm labour. Likewise, consult a professional if it comes with fever, vaginal bleeding, or burning sensations during urination.

Additionally, seek medical attention if the pain is interfering with daily activities. If back pain does not improve with conservative treatments, specific medical interventions may be necessary to provide relief. Getting a diagnosis is important to rule out potential causes or conditions and receive appropriate treatment and care.


Back pain from pregnancy is a common complaint. There are various reasons or factors that contribute to its development. It may be due to hormone changes that cause the loosening of the ligaments and muscles. However, underlying medical conditions, like osteoarthritis and sciatica, may also exacerbate lower back pain. Thus, treatments and home remedies can help manage the discomfort. For people who do not want to rely on pain medications, gentle exercise may help ease backaches.

Additionally, several complementary techniques can help with back pain and are generally safe for pregnant women. Acupuncture, chiropractic care, and TENS therapy are useful methods that can provide drug-free pain relief. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional to ensure that there are suitable treatment options. If severe pain continues or worsens, seek medical attention as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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