Back pain, along with sciatica, rib pain or pelvic pain, is quite often seen as ‘part of the parcel’ in pregnancy. Due to hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, ligaments are getting softer which can put a strain on the joints of your lower back. The expanding uterus also moves your center of gravity and accentuates the arching of your back.
All this explains why as many as three-quarter of women experience lower back pain at some stage in their pregnancy.
However, whilst this is a minor inconvenience for some women, for others it means a complete disruption to their life as they are struggling to walk, go up the stairs or have a much disrupted sleep.
NICE (The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence) is already advising GPs to offer a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain.
And research is now showing that acupuncture is also beneficial for back pain during pregnancy. A Brazilian study (2004) showed that ‘acupuncture seems to alleviate low back and pelvic pain during pregnancy, as well as to increase the capacity for some physical activities and to diminish the need for drugs, which is a great advantage during this period’.
6 Things you can do to relieve back pain:
- Have some acupuncture. Pregnant women seem to be reacting even better to acupuncture and nearly women I have treated for lower back pain during pregnancy have reported some improvements right from the first treatment.
- Take special care of your back. Don’t bend to pick up something. This includes being careful of any twisting movement, for example when helping a young child in and out of his car seat or avoiding carrying your 3 years old up the stairs
- Wear flat shoes. That seems to go without saying but good shoes can make all the difference.
- REST. A lot of women will find that their backache is getting worse as the day goes on, after a walk, doing too much or more than usual. Rest is crucial to recovery.
- Keep warm. In winter in particular, be sure that whatever you are doing, your lower back stays covered and protected. Don’t stand in wet swimming costume either.
- Try a massage but be sure that the person has been specifically trained in massage during pregnancy.
Finally, if you are thinking of using acupuncture during your pregnancy, remember that acupuncture is a very safe therapy, with few side effects. It is really worth considering treatment as soon as the pain starts rather than when it has become unbearable as it is much easier to fix. A few follow ups treatments afterwards will then keep the pain at bay.
Sabine Green is an acupuncturist practicing in the Middlesbrough area (UK). She is also a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).
You can learn more about acupuncture in Middlesbrough by clicking here.
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