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Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can bring out discomfort, aches, and pains that are new to our bodies, including upper back pain during pregnancy. In reality, back pain during pregnancy is so common that it is experienced by at least 50 percent to 80 percent of pregnant women. With so many changes happening to the body during pregnancy, it may come as no surprise that expecting mothers can experience some discomfort. This can make everyday activities more challenging and harder on the body.

There are many reasons why upper back pain during pregnancy can occur. The good news is that it’s also something that can be prevented, managed, and improved. 

When Does Upper Back Pain Usually Start During Pregnancy? 

Upper back pain can start during any stage of pregnancy but is more common in the second and third trimesters as your belly grows. This can occur because most of the additional weight gain is distributed in the front of the body. The extra weight in the front can put added pressure and pull on the back.

In addition, the increased weight gain from your belly typically causes an increased curve of your low back, also known as excessive lumbar lordosis. This change in the lumbar spine will then cause most women to compensate in their upper back by hunching over. When we are hunching over forward, this results in an excessive kyphotic curve of the thoracic spine.

All of these changes in the spine cause your postural muscles to stretch and weaken. It can also cause stiffness, tightness, and pain in the upper and lower back. Although this is a common occurrence during pregnancy, it is not normal. You can try to relieve your pain by working on strengthening, stretching exercises, and moving your spine. It is important you try these exercises with a physical therapist who specializes in safe ways to work out while pregnant. This is the safest way to find back pain relief.

What Causes Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a women’s body adjusts with each physical change. One of the changes that occur is the movement and adjustment of your spinal curve. These adjustments to the spinal curve can result in poor posture. It is important to recognize that the mechanics during your everyday activity can be altered by these changes in your body, which can be the culprit for upper back pain in pregnancy. This can also cause the thoracic spine to become stiff due to abnormal stresses being placed on it, and surrounding muscles become weakened and stretched. 

How To Relieve Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy

When it comes to finding relief, working to improve and maintain good posture is the best way to relieve upper back pain during pregnancy.

Ideally, you want to start off your pregnancy with preventative care exercises. You can start exercises in early pregnancy to strengthen postural muscles such as your rhomboids, lower traps, and other scapular stabilizers. These target areas are important to focus on to prevent excessive thoracic spine kyphosis or rounded shoulder posture. Other exercises and stretches to improve spine mobility also prevent significant stiffness of the thoracic and lumbar spine.

You may also consider using other tools like a foam roller. Foam rollers can help provide a prenatal massage as long as you know how to use the foam roll safely. This is a common tool used in physical therapy, which may also be beneficial to help relieve back pain. However, you should consult your doctor before trying out any new exercises to prevent injury to yourself or the baby.

What are some steps you can take to avoid upper back pain during pregnancy?

The best way to avoid upper back pain during pregnancy is to maintain a consistent workout regimen. It is completely safe and necessary for women to work out as they were prior to becoming pregnant. You can perform certain exercises with modifications to avoid trauma to the abdomen or belly. However, if there are other health concerns, pregnant women should consult with their ob/gyn about their workouts.

The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week while pregnant. These exercises are recommended to prevent most ailments, including excessive weight gain, which helps reduce significant postural changes. Exercise can also prevent gestational hypertension or high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes.

When pregnant, women should maintain their workout regimen. It helps them avoid low birth weights and premature deliveries and increases the women’s chance of vaginal births. Staying active also lessens the chances of cesarean section and causes less tearing, as evidence reported by ACOG.

Overall, it is important for women to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle to ensure the healthiest possible outcome for mother and child.

What should I do if my pain doesn’t go away?

If exercising causes more back pain or you find no relief, then you should follow up with your ob/gyn. You want to be sure there are no other issues resulting in your back pain. Most likely, after a workday on a computer, a phone, working with patients, or being sedentary at home, you’ll find that you’ll tend to have more back pain.

During pregnancy, you’ll find that it’s a lot of maintenance to keep your muscles strong and flexible to avoid any kind of back pain. However, even though it may be challenging to keep up, staying active is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby.

This website is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or lifestyle habits, always consult your doctor or physician first.



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