Dull lower back pain in late pregnancy.
It can really take the glow out of being pregnant.
You’ve made it through the trials of the first trimester, and you’re now in your second or third. (If you’re still in your first trimester and suffering from lower back pain, you can read about what’s happening in your body here). By now you thought pregnancy should be at the “easy” stage. But, that lower back pain is starting to get to you.
Read on to learn what’s causing it, and exactly what you can do about it.
Dull lower back pain in late pregnancy- what is it?
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints we see in our pregnant patients. However, just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you have to concede defeat and just accept it the way it is. There are a number of things you can do to help manage this pain.
This back pain may be new to you. Or, it may be an extension of a pain you’ve felt prior to being pregnant.
Certainly, towards the end of your pregnancy, there will be times that you feel uncomfortable, no matter what you do. However, there is a difference between the discomfort of having a (near) full-term baby in your belly, and pain.
The aim of this post is to talk about why this pain may be present. Plus, what can be done about it.
Dull lower back pain in late pregnancy- what causes it?
Your pelvis will start to rotate anteriorly as you approach the end of your second trimester. This is around the 28 week mark, give or take a few weeks either side.
Pelvic rotation can be hard to visualise, so in order to make it easier to understand, we’ve created this video:
When this anterior rotation happens, the curves in your spine need to be able to adapt too.
If they don’t, you may end up suffering from back pain.
Strictly speaking, this is a separate issue to pelvic girdle pain (PGP). PGP is pain anywhere in or around the ring of your pelvis. PGP and lower back pain in pregnancy can co-exist, however. If you’d like to read more about PGP, you can click here.
The change in the orientation of your pelvis has flow-on effects for the rest of your spine.
To help you to fully understand this, we’ll break it down into the two regions most affected by these changes.
Region #1: The Lumbar Spine
This refers to the 5 vertebrae that make up your lower back.
In the anteriorly rotated position, your lumbar spine starts to develop what’s known as an increased lordosis. This means that the curve in it becomes a bigger C-shape, or what some people call a ‘sway back’.
Because of the anatomy of this region of your spine, an increased curve results in more load going through the joints of your lower back. This can start to cause irritation and pain.
Another result of your seemingly ever-expanding belly is that the uterus continues to expand. It grows bigger and heavier by the day.
This means that for most people, more weight is carried through the front of your body. This can put strain on your abdominal muscles and pubic bone. This is likely to be you if you feel:
- pain or tension around your pubic bone, or
- a lot of tightness through your stomach muscles.
Some women, however, tend to accommodate an increase in uterus weight by taking the strain on their pelvic floor muscles and pelvic ligaments. If you feel a constant pelvic pressure, this is most likely the way your body is adapting to these changes.
However your body chooses to adapt to weight and postural changes, your lower back will be doing a lot more work.
Region #2: The Thoracic Spine
This refers to the 12 vertebrae that make up the middle to upper portion of your back.
Your thoracic spine and rib cage must be able to move freely. This is regardless of which way your body decides to carry the weight changes through your pelvis. The thoracic spine is the area in the middle of your back that your ribs attach to.
If you’re stiff or tight through your middle or upper back and ribs, it will place a downwards pressure on your belly. This means you’re more likely to suffer pain in the pubic region.
This is because your baby’s size is constantly increasing, putting a lot of pressure upwards.
If your thoracic spine and ribs can’t allow for this expansion, the force will be redirected downwards.
Our assessment of pregnant ladies always examines them from head to toe. Regardless of their area(s) of pain, there is likely to be involvement throughout the whole body.
Dull lower back pain in late pregnancy- Self-management strategies for you to try at home.
Two exercises that can be helpful to manage this are:
“Threading the needle”.
These exercises help increase the range of motion of the entire spine. This will result in decreased pressure on your lower back and pelvis.
Self-management strategies such as these form an integral part of our management programs for pregnant patients. Give them a try- we hope that they help you and would love to hear your thoughts on them.
If you’ve tried these out, but you’re still in pain, our expert Osteopaths are well trained in managing pregnancy related pain. Give us a call on (03) 9372 7714, or book online today for personalised management strategies.