back pain

Low Back Pain and Sciatica During Pregnancy – Why?

During pregnancy,between 50% & 80% of women can suffer with low back pain &/or sciatica. However, although this problem can be difficult to treat, it should never be accepted as being ‘a part of pregnancy’. There are definitely measures which can be taken to try & resolve this problem. However, this article will discuss the likely causes of this type of pain during pregnancy.

There a three main causes of low back pain and sciatica during pregnancy, and they are:

1) Increased Curvature of the Spine.

2) Muscle Imbalance.

3) Hormonal Changes.

1) Increased Curvature of the Spine

This arises due to the increased weight gained during pregnancy, therefore typically becoming more of a problem as each trimester passes. As the increases in weight occur, your abdominal region becomes larger, shifting your centre of gravity forward i.e. you stomach being positioned further out in front of you and consequently, your lower back arching further forward.

This change in posture places increased strain upon the facet joints of the lower back as these joint surfaces are forced against one another more. This pressure upon the facet joints can lead to back ache/pain. Continued pressure may also result in an inflammatory response taking place. This will mean a more acute and sensitive low back pain with the potential for the pain to radiate into the buttock region and down the leg (sciatica) should the sciatic nerve roots become involved.

2) Muscle Imbalance

This is very closely related to the above point ‘Increased Curvature of the Spine’. Due to this change in posture, the muscles at the front become stretched and weak and the muscles at the back become tight. The former issue here is inevitable to a certain degree, due to the simple fact that as your baby grows, your abdominal muscles are going to be stretched. However, that does not mean they cannot be exercised to increase their strength and keep this influence to a minimum… and I am not talking about sit-ups either! Likewise, the tight muscles in the lower back can also be stretched.

3) Hormonal Changes

Especially towards the end of pregnancy, the body will be producing hormones which will relax the ligaments of the pelvis in preparation for child birth. The implications of this are that the joints at the back of the pelvis i.e. the Sacro-Iliac Joints (SIJ) will not be as stable as they should be, leading to increased movement and potential stress across these joints…. potentially leading to pain.

If you are suffering with low back pain and/or sciatica during your pregnancy, it is imperative you do all you can to resolve this problem. As I mentioned above, although low back pain & sciatica are a common complaint of pregnancy, it is not something which should be expected and therefore ignored.

Most low back pain & sciatica which is suffered during pregnancy will begin to resolve itself following the birth of your child. The more you do to address the pain while you are pregnant, the quicker it will resolve afterwards. Not only that, but for a small percentage of women, the pain does not resolve itself quickly after child birth. Doing the correct things for the pain as soon as possible will minimise the risk of you suffering long term afterward.

Paul Boxcer – Bsc (Hons) Physiotherapist, has over 14 years experience of treating people with low back pain & sciatica. With careful analysis of this experience, Paul has developed his unique Personalised Treatment Approach to treating both of these painful conditions. Visit his website at to find out more about Paul’s unique approach to treating both sciatica and low back pain.

Paul’s book“Low Back Pain & Sciatica – A Personalised Treatment Approach” not only explains everything you need to know in order to allow you to cure yourself of the pain you may be suffering with, but by addressing the cause of the problem, it ensures the risk of subsequent episodes is also eliminated. Visit Paul on his Facebook page for further information or maybe ask him a question or two!

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