Does Chiropractic Help Back Pain Associated with Pregnancy?
If you are pregnant and suffering from low back pain, a neighbor, midwife or a friend has probably suggested you visit a chiropractor because they were able to get relief during their pregnancy. The discussion probably left you curious, is that good advice or just a single success story? Additionally, you may be wondering whether chiropractic is safe during pregnancy and how much low back pain improvement the average pregnant woman can expect.
Causes of low back pain during pregnancy
Your body is undergoing extraordinary changes during pregnancy. Tremendous physical and emotional stresses are placed on the body causing structural adaptations. These adaptations and shifts in weight as the fetus develops frequently create back and neck pain. Plus, calculate in any previous low back pain and you can imagine the extra stress on the intervertebral disks, spine and even irritated nerves.
- 57 – 69% of women complain of low back pain during pregnancy
- Only about 32% of women report these symptoms to their primary doctor
- Only about 25% of primary doctors recommend seeking treatment for the pain.
Clearly this is a big problem with 2 in 3 having pregnancy-related back pain. Also a big problem is that generally they are not talking to their obstetricians and primary care physicians about it and that these professionals are not referring them to effective treatment options.
Can Chiropractic Care Help During Pregnancy?
Chiropractic treatments can be quite effective for pregnancy-related back pain with just a few visits for the majority of women seeking help. In a small study of 17 women:
- Sixteen of 17 (94%) saw clinically important improvements in low back pain with chiropractic care.
- The average pain rating went down from 5.9 to 1.5 (on a scale of 0 to 10).
- It took an average of 1.8 visits and 4.5 days to get clinically important pain relief.
After looking at several scientific publications on these exact topics, the appropriate conclusion seems to be that “chiropractic evaluation and treatment during pregnancy may be considered a safe and effective means of treating common musculoskeletal symptoms that affect pregnant patients. The scarcity of published literature warrants further research.” (Borggren, 2007)
So basically the answers are:
- Yes, chiropractic is safe during pregnancy.
- Yes, chiropractic helps common musculoskelatal probelms during pregnancy (including back pain).
- Your friends experience isn’t just one woman’s story. Many women are finding relief and the results are being sporadically published in medical journals too.
- More research under more controlled conditions is needed for the purposes of educating primary care physicians and obstetricians about chiropractic care during pregnancy.
I hope this article gave you hope that many pregnant women do get significant, rapid relief from low back pain. If you are currently pregnant with low back pain, you probably have many questions not answered by this article. Perhaps you’ve never had chiropractic care before or you want to know how we adjust our techniques to work with pregnant patients. The best way to get answers to your questions is with an initial consultation. Call Peak Balance Chiropractic today! Also, here’s a quick video of a patient. Check out her story here.
Borggren, C. L. (2007, Spring). Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. J Chiropr Med, 6(2), 70-74.
Khorsan, R., Hawk, C., Lisi, A., & Kizhakkeveettil, A. (2009, Jun). Manipulative therapy for pregnancy and related conditions: a systematic review. Obstet Gynecol Surv, 64(6), 416-27.
Lisi, A. (2006, Jan-Feb). Chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain of pregnancy: a retrospective case series. J Midwifery Womens Health, 51(1), 7-10.
Stuber, K., & Smith, D. (2008, ul-Aug). Chiropractic treatment of pregnancy-related low back pain: a systematic review of the evidence. J Manipulative Physiol Ther., 31(6), 447-54.