Pregnancy and low back pain | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Pregnancy and low back pain

June 6, 2019

Pregnancy and Low Back Pain

Pain in the low back and pelvis areas in not uncommon during pregnancy, in fact, roughly 45% of women who are pregnant and 25% of women who have given birth experience some form of pain in these areas.  Pain in the low back /pelvis  back /pelvis can be very debilitating and can prevent you from participating in everyday activities.  For this reason it is good to see your physical therapist whenever you have pain in these areas that last for longer than 1-2 weeks.


The main causes for back pain during pregnancy are outlined below:


Again it is recommended to see you physical therapist if you have pain in the low back or pelvis for more than 1-2 weeks.  When you are pregnant, if your pain is sudden and severe and/or have feelings of cramping that come and go, see your physician as these may be signs of labor.

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Here are some things you can do at home to alleviate some low back pain associated with pregnancy at home:

When you see your physical therapist, they will go through an examination/evaluation with you that may include a brief medical and social history, some strength testing, range of motion testing, and other special tests to find out what structures are being affected by pregnancy and are causing the increased pain.  After their assessment, they will prescribe a treatment plan that is tailored to the individual.  Treatments can include the use of modalities like hot/cold packs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and superficial massage techniques to help decrease pain, and promote healing to stressed tissues.  An exercise and stretching program will be prescribed in order to help increase strength and endurance of the weakened muscles and/or help improve their flexibility.  Posture education will also be provided as well as techniques to make moving while pregnant a little more efficient for the mother in certain aspects of daily living.

Another key goal after the start of treatment is looking ahead towards prevention of another injury happening again.  It is recommended that you continue seeing a physical therapist routinely to alter and progress your exercise prescription.  Continuing treatment after pregnancy should also be discussed with your physical therapist as pain can persist for many months even after delivery of the baby when the added weight is no longer stressing the body.  Pain in the low back can have a huge negative impact on your quality of life by preventing you from performing basic everyday activities.  The sooner you see your physical therapist for a diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome will be.

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  1. Vermani E, Mittal R, Weeks A.  Pelvic Girdle Pain and Low Back Pain in Pregnancy:  A Review. Pain Practice. 2009;10(1):60-71.
  2. Norén L, Ӧstgaard S, Johansson G, Ӧstgaard HC.  Lumbar back and posterior pelvic pain during pregnancy: a 3-year follow-up.  European Spine Journal.  2002;11:267-271. doi: 10.1007/s00586-001-0357-7.
  3. American Pregnancy Association.  Back Pain.  American Pregnancy Association.  Updated March 2007.  Accessed December 18, 2012.