Back Pain in Pregnancy: Is it due to hormones?

Back pain in pregnancy can be due to hormone changes.

Haven’t we all been told that hormones are always the cause of every problem known for a woman? Well in this case the hormone in question is ‘relaxin’. This little lovely is produced every month during a woman’s menstrual cycle and disappears if no pregnancy occurs. And if it does this hormone peaks in the first trimester, apparently to encourage implantation, and is then maintained throughout pregnancy to cause relaxation of the body’s soft tissues and so stretch out the joints of the body in preparation for the changes that will be occurring as the baby grows. Hormone changes can lead to lower back pain in early after conception too.

Back in Pregnancy due to Joint Laxity

You know those kids in the playground who are all mouth and who start trouble, only to stand back after it all gets a little too much, and pretend that they had nothing to do with it? Well this may be it. The theory is that this little guy causes the body’s joints to relax (hence the name relaxin) which then reduces the stability of the lumbar spine. And of course he gets help from progesterone and oestrogen with all the relaxation. Add to that the increase in load from the growing baby(s) in that very area and the fact that the abdominal muscles wade in with their stretching to allow for the increasing size of the abdomen and suddenly there is no support in the lumbo-pelvic region. But recent studies have found that relaxin may not be the main fall guy as the evidence is weak overall.

Previous back pain means your at risk

Although there is no definitive proof yet, studies have found that there is an increased risk of suffering from  lumbar spine pain in those of us who have suffered from lower back pain before, most notably during menstruation, those who have had multiple children and whether an individual has had any spinal surgery before.
For PGP the risk increases with increased body mass index, any strenuous activity and as the pregnancy progresses – the latter of which I have certainly experienced to be the case in clinic.

Lower back pain in early pregnancy

This can vary. The general consensus is that pregnancy-related pain can start at any point when pregnant but that most cases occur in the second and third trimesters. If back pain initiates at the start of pregnancy it is often found that it not only continues through until full term but increases in severity as it does so. So something to look forward to then!

If you would like an appointment to see if our chiropractors or  physiotherapists can help you with pregnancy related back pain or leg pain then give us a call so we can book you in.

Next article: 7 steps to combat back pain in pregnancy

References

Aldabe, D et al (2012). Pregnancy-Related Pelvic Girdle Paina nd its Relationship with relaxin

Han, I. (2010). Pregnancy and Spinal Problems. Current Opinions in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Dec. Vol.22. No.6. pp.477-81

Kovacs, F.M. et al (2012). Prevalence and Factors Associated with Low Back Pain and Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy; A Multicentre Study Conducted in the Spanish National Health Service. Spine. Feb. No.13. [ePub ahead of print].

Kristiansson, P. et al, (1996). Back Pain During Pregnancy: a Prospective Study. Spine. Mar. Vol.21. No.6. pp.702-9.

Licciardone, J.C. et al. (2010). Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment of Back Pain and Related Symptoms During Pregnancy: A Randomised Controlled Trial. American Journal od Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Jan. Vol.202. No.1. pp.43e1 – 43e8.

Liebetrau, A et al (2012). [Is there a Correlation Between Back Pain and Stability of the Lumbar Spine in Pregnancy? A Model-Based Hypothesis]. Schmerz. Feb. 26. No.1. pp.36-45.

Lisi, A.J. (2006). Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Low Back Pain of Pregnancy: a Retospectie Case Series. Journal of Midwifery Women’s Health. Jan – Feb. Vol.51. No.1. pp.e7-10.

Majchrzycki, M et al, (2010). Low back Pain in Pregnant Women. Ginekol Pol. Nov. Vol.81. No.11. pp851-5.

Stuber, K.J. & Smith, D.L. (2008). Chiropractic Treatment of Pregnancy-Related Low Back Pain: a Systematic Review of the Evidence. Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics. July-Aug. Vol.31. No.6. pp.447-54.


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