Stop ignoring back pain, warn doctors

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Expecting mothers must seek advice from doctors about lower backache

Pune: On the occasion of Mother’s Day (May 12), spine experts advise mothers to stop ignoring pregnancy and postpartum back pain. Worldwide research suggests that about 50 to 80 per cent of expecting mothers suffer from lower back pain. 

Medical experts believe that it is not unusual for new mothers to experience back pain after childbirth as well. However, back pain not only affects the well-being of a mother but interferes with childcare too.

Dr Garima Anandani, Senior Spine Specialist and Clinical Director, QI Spine Clinic, said that during pregnancy, the uterus expands and women typically gain weight in the second trimester. 

“Pregnancy also disturbs the natural ‘S’ curve of the spine and shifts the centre of gravity. This change in posture and the weight of a growing baby compresses the discs and the nerves in the spine. Sometimes this problem doesn’t correct itself after childbirth,” said Anandani. 

She added that in many cases back pain due to pregnancy often recedes with time.  “But sometimes beginning a job or engaging in household work soon after childbirth doesn’t allow the body to recover completely. This can lead to serious health issues in the long run. In case the problem persists, one must see a specialist without delay, especially in the case of pregnant women. The problem could be treated through non-invasive therapies with adequate professional help post-delivery. The affected area in the spine can be regenerated with advanced, non-surgical cell regeneration therapy programmes,” said Anandani.

Further highlighting the issue, Dr Neha Narula, Senior Spine Specialist, said that if a woman has chronic backaches before pregnancy, chances of pain during pregnancy are much higher.
“Hence, during and post pregnancy, don’t ignore the pain or suppress it with painkillers. Mothers must adopt healthy ways to soothe back and neck pain with a hot or cold compress during pregnancy and must consult a doctor. Adequate spinal health care not only provides an enriched experience of motherhood but also aids in improving the condition of overall health in women. It is thus necessary to raise the awareness of adequate spinal health care, especially for mothers,” said Dr Narula.

Causes of postpartum back pain

- Pregnancy hormones: During pregnancy, the body produces a hormone called ‘relaxin’ responsible for loosening the muscles and joints to assist in childbirth, which may also cause the weakening of spinal joints, ligaments and muscles leading to back pain.
- Postural stresses post-pregnancy: Holding the baby in a wrong way during breastfeeding could be another cause of pain in the upper, middle and lower back.
- Sleep deprivation: A continuous lack of sleep may stress and strain the back muscles, leading to increased back and neck pain.
- Lack of post-pregnancy care: Weight gain post pregnancy and lack of physical activity at times is a major hindrance to the recovery of a woman’s body. 

Alleviate postpartum back pain

- Exercises: The practice of gentle exercising helps strengthen the muscles post-delivery. Exercises include core strengthening exercises, walking, deep belly breathing with abdominal contractions, kneeling pelvic tilts, kegels, yoga, head lifts, shoulder lifts and curl-ups.
- Correct postures: Maintaining correct body mechanics involves bending down from the knee while lifting the child and lifting the baby up to the breast to avoid bending or hunching while breastfeeding. 
- Muscle relaxation: Muscle soreness could be soothed with a professional massage or hot compress. Also, one can engage in meditation or relaxation techniques to reduce stress.
- Protein-rich diet: Protein inclusion in one’s diet strengthens the body, thus aiding in recovery. Milk, cheese, yoghurt, fish, meat and beans are good sources of protein for mothers post pregnancy.

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