Why Does My Back Hurt During Pregnancy?

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Why Does My Back Hurt During Pregnancy?

There are a number of possible causes for lower back pain during pregnancy. 


It’s a time of dramatic adjustments for your body, and it seems that some bodies are able to adapt more smoothly than others.  


One of the more common reasons is PGP, or pelvic girdle pain, and it is experienced by around 20% of women during pregnancy. 



PGP is defined as pain anywhere in the pelvic ring, and it may radiate down the back of the thigh.  There may also be pain in what’s known as the “pubic symphysis”, which is where the two halves of the pelvis meet at the front, in what’s more commonly known as the groin region.  


When you’ve got PGP, you can’t walk, stand or sit comfortably for long.  


There are a number of possible causes, one of which is the hormone relaxin, which affects the laxity of ligaments throughout the body.  This can cause a slightly larger range of movement in the pelvic joints, and if your body isn’t able to properly compensate for this, the effect may be pain.  


Risk factors for developing PGP include a history of previous low back pain, and a history of trauma to the pelvis.  


Whilst you can’t do much to change these two factors once they’ve already occurred, knowledge is power, and knowledge can help do your best to manage the situation once it arises.


On the contrary, factors known NOT to put someone at increased risk are:

  • Time since last pregnancy- having a longer or shorter interval doesn’t seem to make a difference.
  • Height
  • Weight- despite what many people think, being over or under weight doesn’t change the likelihood of developing PGP
  • Smoking (although obviously this is not recommended for other reasons)
  • Age- one study reported a slightly increased risk in younger women, although this has not been confirmed in other studies as yet


According to the “European Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic girdle pain”, things you can do to help yourself include:

  • Water aerobics has been shown to have a positive effect on sick leave and pain intensity
  • Performing individually tailored exercises has been shown to be more effective than general group training
  • A pelvic belt mat be fitted to test for symptomatic relief, but should only be applied for short periods


If you would like more information, we’ve also discussed PGP in previous posts.  This includes treatment options here, and self management strategies here.


If you would like more personalised advice, why not give us a call on (03) 9372 7714 or book online today, to see if one of our team of Osteopaths can help you?