Back Pain in Pregnancy? Here’s Why

Having lower back pain or leg pain in pregnancy already? Feeling tired and sore in your spine? Wondering about causes of back pain in pregnancy? Brighton chiropractor Amanda Goring explains why.

It is estimated that up to 50% of all pregnant women suffer from some form of lower back pain during their pregnancy. So, as if you didn’t have enough to worry about with information on fluid retention causing things such as carpal tunnel syndrome and muscle cramps some of us will be thrown into the lottery of aching backs, tight hips and even leg pain symptoms. And the irritating truth is that no one has a definitive answer to what, why, who or when.

So let’s look at the ‘What’:

Largely pregnancy related back pain falls into one of three categories:-
1. Lumbar spine pain
2. Pelvic girdle pain (the notorious term which shoots dread into the heart of most pregnant women – previously known as ‘pubic symphysis dysfunction’ – not fooling any of us or being any less intimidating with its new name).
3. Muscle pains.

And the ‘Why’:

Well this is the golden question. The contenders are weight gain,  muscle imbalances and hormone changes. Lets look at weight gain and muscle imbalances first.

Weight gain and muscle imbalances causing back pain in pregnancy

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that as your baby(s) grow they place a large amount of stress through your lower body. Considering that your weight gain can be around 1/4 of your total body weight and that the majority of that is distributed at the front, you can imagine how hard your back has to work to anchor you and keep you upright.
As the baby grows you tend to develop an increased curve in your lower back (known as ‘hyperlordosis’) and there is an increase in front to back movements.
In addition, once you are pregnant and galloping through the stages, the muscles in your lower body have to work harder to cope with this weight gain and shift in the centre of gravity and they can become tired faster, leading to all that aching. And if there are imbalances already from tightness in areas, this will only become worse as they are placed under more demand.

Next article: Hormone changes leading to 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.

7 Tips to Prevent Back Pain in Golfers

Preventing back pain in golfers is easy with these tips. Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett, shares the 7 essential tips. By following these simple rules your back will be pain free and your game can even improve.

Back pain in golfers is quite common. Four out of five will experience some back pain at some point and up to one in five will have pain now. Here’s how to make sure you are not one them:-

1 Don’t stretch beforehand

2 Get fit to play golf, don’t play golf to get fit

3 Strengthen trunk and shoulders muscles

4 Do flexibility exercises

5 Use brains not brawn

6 Wear orthotics if needed

7 Wear a hat

Golf is an un-natural activity. Evolution has not caught up with our leisure activities yet, otherwise golfers would have rubber spines and knees that bent in all directions. The twisting action whilst bending forwards can put large strains on the muscles and joints of the back and knees.

Tips to Prevent Back Pain in Golfers

1. Don’t stretch beforehand

Believe or not stretching before sport can actually decrease a golfers performance. Scientists think stretching may decrease the resting tone of a muscle making it less able to respond to sudden bursts of activity. In one study a group of sprinters who stretched before the timed run ran more slowly. Other studies have not conclusively shown that pre-sport stretching helps to prevent injuries. The benefits remain uncertain.

2. Get fit to play golf, don’t play golf to get fit

Whilst many of us play golf to improve our fitness we need to exercise in between trips to the golf club. Walking is obviously helpful but swimming  can also be good as it works the shoulders as well.  Other sports like tennis and badminton are great too.

3. Strengthen trunk and shoulders muscles to take the strain off the back

The core stability muscles have been getting a lot of good press recently. These deep trunk muscles in the abdomen and back provide support in the same way that a weight-lifters belt does but in a more flexible and dynamic way. You don’t need to go to Pilates classes in your best lycra though, simple abs exercise are good enough. If you want to get the best abs and back exercises get a gym ball and do sit-ups and back extension exercises on the ball instead. It works more quickly and tunes the muscles up more effectively. It’s fun too!

Shoulders and upper back muscle are often overlooked when it come to golf specific exercises. This may be because few of us relish the idea of lifting weights which can get boring very quickly. Instead try a flexi bar. These simple exercises will work on the strength, flexibility and control in the shoulders and back very quickly. Just a few minutes a day really does make a difference.

4. Do flexibility exercises to prevent back pain

Strength is nothing without flexibility in golf. The lower back joints are not designed to twist very much. If you have a stiff mid-back or hips this will place more strain on your lower back joints and discs increasing the chance of injury. If your shoulders are stiff you run the risk of Impingement Syndrome or other shoulder damage.

Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent at improving flexibility. If you don’t fancy classes try one-to-one sessions to be shown a few moves or try these.

5. Use brains not brawn

This tip will make the golf club pros happy. The cause of many strains whilst playing golf is incorrect technique. A few lessons and driving range sessions can lessen the load on your joints and muscles and relieve back pain in golfers. Over-hitting the ball for those last few yards can force a muscle or ligament that may be under strain already to finally give out and tear leading to the pain and inflammation which causes back pain.

6. Wear orthotics if needed

Orthotics can improve swing speed and improve distance research has shown, if you have even slight flattening of your feet arches (over-pronation). Interestingly many people are unaware of over-pronation as it can even happen in people with seemingly good arches whilst standing still. On the move, however, especially trying to swing a golf club at 100mph any minor defects can get emphasised.

7. Wear a hat

Of all the tips for golfers here, this is the most unusual. On a cold day you may get cold. If that happens your body decreases blood flow to your arms and legs to preserve what little heat you have in your blood for the essential internal organs. Muscles which you carefully warmed up (not stretched!) don’t get the oxygen and nutrients that they need and are more likely to pull. Wearing a hat keeps your core temperature up by slowing the heat loss out of your exposed head.

If you have any aches and pains that are causing problems with your golf or just want a preventative check-up then give us a call so we can make you an appointment to see one of our chiropractors or physio’s.

Bad Backs in Children

Back pain in children is common. About half of school age children report back aches at some time. Poor school chairs are often to blame. In this video Matthew talks to BBC’s Newsround about the importance of good chairs at school.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plAb9UIcm_E

If you would like your child to have a free spine check-up then please call us to book an appointment.

Sundial wins award

Our Brighton chiropractor clinics have won an award. Every year the College of Chiropractors recognises the clinics around the country that demonstrate a  commitment to exceptional service to patients. A panel of other chiropractors and lay people from the Chiropractic Patients Association pour over the nitty-gritty of what goes on in clinics. If you meet the rigorous standard you are awarded the Patient Partnership Quality Mark for a period of three years. This is the second time both Sundial Clinics in Brighton have won this prestigious award.

As with all such things it is due to the wonderful staff we have running the day to day stuff. The receptionists Polly, Becky, Rachael, Julia, Gabriele and Andrea do a wonderful job. This award is largely due to their commitment and dedication to looking after everyone who comes to see us. In a recent survey 94% of patients rated them very good or excellent. We are not surprised, they are indeed excellent and it is a pleasure to work with them all.

Someone you don’t see on the front desk is Pauline. She runs the back office duties from ordering supplies to invoicing insurance companies to handling the payroll. She has been with us now for 18 years and we could not run the clinics without her. A huge thank you to all of them from Richard and myself.

We would also like to thank you. We really enjoy what we do and that is in a large part due to the fabulous people like you that come to see us. We cannot think of a job we would rather do than look after our patients to relieve their pain and keep them in good shape. It is hugely rewarding and without you we would not be able to do it.

Matthew and Richard