Back Pain with Pregnancy
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Back Pain with Pregnancy
Hello. I'm a newly pregnant 38-year-old who has suffered from chronic
upper-back pain for the last two years. It's undiagnosable (which is
not, apparently, unusual), and has not responded to any conventional
or alternative treatment - I've covered the waterfront, from
trigger-point injections to medication to acupuncture to PT.
I'm worried that I won't be able to care for my child
properly. Carrying groceries, doing household chores, and computer
work all increase my pain now. Am I crazy to think I can care for a
baby? We've wanted a child for so long, and given my age, this might
be our last chance. I'm only several weeks along now, and my anxiety
is already building. Does anyone else out there have experience caring
for a child when in chronic pain? Thanks for any advice!
- maybe mom-to-be
You said you've been thru the gammet of alternative care but you
didn't mention chiropractors.
I can highly recommend Dr. Elon Bartlett.
Elon has a ''family practice'' but works mostly with pregnant
women with all kinds of different issues.
I think it would be really worth talking to him and possibly
setting iup an appt.
The office is at 2509 Milia between Blake and Dwight way in Bkly.
Give him a call...I bet he can help.NO need to go thru your
pregnancy, childbirth (well, maybe childbirth) and raising your
babe with back pain. Good luck.
Provided that you have ongoing communication with your general physician, and
have ruled out any major medical issue, I highly recommend enrolling in a prenatal
restorative yoga class, swimming or taking a prenatal water aerobics class, and also
splurging when you can on a good masseuse.The more stress you put on yourself
by worrying about your back pain will not only exacerbate the back pain, but also
hinder you from the happiness of connecting with your unborn child. This is a
beautiful time in your lives...enjoy your pregnancy - you will be able to handle this!
Additionally, you can find many ergonomically-oriented baby gear sites/products
that will help you maintain healthy a healthy back post-delivery. Best wishes to you
and your family!
There's a fantastic book called Healing Back Pain by Dr. John
Sarno that I really recommend to anyone going through back pain
for whatever the reason/source/origin and however severe.
Hope this helps
Finally, something I have expertise in! I am 37 and also have
chronic back pain (herniated disk in L5 area), and now have a 6
month old baby. When I was preggers, the most worrying thing was
how I would do when I was bigger and had more ligament relaxing
hormones in me. The short answer is: I did much better than I
The most important thing for me what to keep up my treatments
with Directive Non-Force Chiropractic, which is the only thing
that ever helps me. I see Margaret Weber in Alameda (769-7139).
It's a gentle, non-cracking type of technique. I needed weekly
work when I was nearing the end of the pg, and I tell you, she
saved my ass.
The next most important thing is always keeping good posture.
You'll need lots of buckwheat pillows around when you have your
baby, so that you can position the baby and yourself well during
the repetitive activities. It's amazing how contorted you can
get doing just normal activities with a little one. Just be
aware at all times. ((Part 2 follows))
Get a changing table at a good height for you. I like the ones
with a tall lip, so that the baby can't roll off.
Instead of bathing your baby in the sink or with a baby tub, get
yourself into the bathtub with the baby.
When you put the baby in a baby swing, sit down first on a stool
next to it, then reach over to put her in - less bending.
When you're on the floor with the baby, put her on the couch,
then get up from the floor, then pick her up from the couch,
instead of the floor. Less bending. (If you're agile, you can
just get up still holding her, but I'm not!)
Laying and down while breastfeeding is the holy grail for
people. But with the back trouble, it's never been all that
comfortable for me. But for your type of pain, it may be ok. Ask
someone to show you.
Baby carriers: there are many different types and you'll want to
try them all out for what's most comfortable. Buy used, and
think of expense as an experiment. For me, the Moby wrap when
she little, now the sling is working for us, the ergo was less
than comfortable for me. FOr me, it's easier to have the baby in
a baby carrier than to actually hold her, and it may be for you,
Next thing -- at some point, your baby will help you pick her
up. My daughter was around 4 months old, when she started to
understand what I meant by my outstretched hands -- that I was
about to pick her up. She now ''helps'' by offering her arms so
that I will bend at the waist less.
Last thing: have a tour of the hospital and see the birthing
beds to see what birthing positions are possible on it. Practice
what positions feel comfortable for you, and stick with them.
They may suggest lots of other positions to you, and in the heat
of the moment, you may feel tempted to try them, but don't!
Stick with the ones you know mentally will keep you from more
pain. Bring your own pillows for bolstering your position. I
ended up using a rolled up sweatpants as a bolster.
Chronic pain such as you describe can be very debilitating and
especially hard to function with if you are trying to care for a
child while in pain. You mentioned you have tried multiple
alternative therapies without success but it sounds like you are
still open to ideas. I am an experienced yoga teacher, massage
therapist and aromatherapist and have had a lot of success with
clients who suffer from chronic pain using a combination of
massage for relaxation, essential oils to reduce inflammation
and support emotional health, and yoga to build strength and
flexibility bringing balance into the body.
I HIGHLY recommend Allan Herranen who for approx. $135 will come
to your house & work on you for 1.75 hours (deep tissue
massage/yoga stretches/self care/rolfing if you want). He has
worked on pregnant women, including me. He helped me turn my
carpal tunnel syndrome around naturally. He is gentle and deep,
all within your bounds. He really is a miracle worker, so if you
can afford it, I cannot recommend him highly enough. He is also a
yoga instructor if you want to check him out first in his class
in SF. Don't be scared by his very deep voice.
Have you tried network chiropractic? I often experience upper back pain, usually
related to emotional tension that I hold there. Network chiropractic has really helped
me. It was also great when I was having pelvic pain during my pregnancies.
My network chiropractor is Koichi from Hikari Chiropractic in Berkeley. He's excellent.
I suffered for 10 yrs with chronic back pain before getting
pregnant at 37. I had the very same fears. I now have a 1 year
old and am not hindered in my ability to care for her. I found
that my back pain completely disappeared at about week 6 of my
pregnancy. I had NO BACK PAIN at all during most of my
pregnancy, even during labor. I even gained 40 lbs. It is only
now just coming back sporadically, only not as severe as before.
I still do not have my period yet, however. I believe my severe
chronic back pain may be related to menstrual hormones (it's
really bad right before my period). More importantly, though, I
think my mental state really affects my back pain. When I am
really suppressing things, my back pain gets unbearable. I have
also tried everything to treat it, both traditional and
non-traditional. Dealing with my emotions and feelings seems to
be the best treatment. I am still working on this, though...
Don't worry - you will be a great mom and more than physically
capable of taking care of your little one. (You might check out
this book -- Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John
Amazing Mom with Back Pain
Many, many parents with disabilities including back pain have
raised children. Through the looking glass would be a good place
If you are not in physical therapy, consider starting now. A
relationship with a physical therapist and a massage therapist
can make a huge difference. The sooner in your pregnancy you
start these proactive treatements the better. Some people find
chiropractic also very helpful.
Put your child in a stroller even in the house
Make sure everything is ergonomic and at your level in the house
Find a good occupational therapist to help you with adaptive
equipment such as reachers and other aids. You should not be
bending over or reaching.
When you take your baby from the crib, wait until she comes to
the sides and lifs herself up.
Make sure to take good care of your back. Water exercise during
pregnancy can be a very helpful. Short walks can alleviate back
Take it slowly and good luck! I started my pregnancy with back
pain and it got better as the pregnancy went on. Pregnancy
hormones (relaxin for example) can do great things. You need to
work with your body -- espeically taking car of stomach muscles.
You can do it!
Sorry this is late, but I did want to respond. I too have back
pain from herniated discs as well as a chronic illness that
affects my joints (as well as other symptoms). This was a major
reason I waited to have a baby. But, I now have an amazing 11
month old. While it is very dificult, I can honestly say I would
not take it back for the world. Motherhood is hard and even
harder with physical limitations. But well worth it!
Despite my (and my doctor's worries), pregnancy actually made my
chronic illness a lot better. My back did got through a really
bad period, but seemed to regain steam and held in there till the
end. I did do a home program of prenatal yoga and physical
therapy exercises. I saw a PT early on to come up with an
apropriate program as well as a yoga instructor (I saw Betsy
Appell www.berkeleydoula.com, who worked with my physical
limitations to come up with a good program). I also saw an
accupuncturist on a monthly basis.
As for after you have the baby, I'd make sure you get enough help
possible. I didn't and it made it a lot harder. Take advantage
of family members, neighbors, and make sure you get some breaks.
A physical therapist may be able to come up with a postpartum
home program to help you with body mechanics, strengthening, etc.
I'd talk over your concerns with you GP and OBGYN too -- they may
have some suggestions.
Anyway, those are my 2 cents. Good luck and take care!!!
I know many women have lower back pain during pregnancy, but I have
mid back pain, just below the bra line and mainly on the left side. One
OB/Gyn I've seen doesn't think it's OB related. As I've never had any kind
of back pain previously, I really doubt that. I'm doing prenatal yoga once
a week and swimming and stretching, but I still end up sitting against a
heating pad almost every night. My husband rubs my back often, and
I've had professional massage once; none of this helps, but I'm willing to
try it again, and maybe chiropractic(?). Has anyone experienced this
kind of pain? Did anything you did work? Can you recommend a
massage therapist and/or chiropractor who works on pregnant women?
Thanks for any and all advice.
I experienced the same thing! My first midwife didn't have any
suggestions but my second one did. Her theory, which made sense
to me, was that the baby was putting pressure on a nerve ganglion
that was referring the pain to my back. I was a student at the
time and I would cry almost every afternoon because I was
carrying my backpack as well as my baby, and hauling myself all
over campus. Boy, I am glad that is over with.
It turns out that I have a small fibroid. It is possible that my
little guy found it a good spot to rub, and caused pain in my
back. I did yoga, swimming, etc. but unfortunately for me, it
didn't go away until after he was born. He was the bigger of my
babies; I didn't have the back pain with my daughter, who was a
full pound lighter, and one inch shorter. Perhaps that had
something to do with it, but I recall the pain starting at around
20 weeks or so. I can't imagine he would be big enough at that
gestation to cause problems due to his bulk!
Anyway, that may be what is going on with you. I found wearing
bras made the pain worse, so I bought a few exercise tank tops to
give me breast support without the rib pressure. Taking breaks
throughout the day to lay down and relax my back muscles also
helped a lot. Good luck to you! Hang in there, it'll be over
i had that kind of back pain too!!! so frustrating. and unexpected.
yoga helped - it
was best when I went to three classes a week. particularly doing
'trout' pose and
being on all fours, placing one hand below center of chest and sweeping
arm up towards the sky. i got massages and liked leslie at that place
meets claremont. and i got cranial-sacral work from Patti Rochette D.O.
congratulations and best of luck
Hey I thought I was the only one! I'm ~5 months along and have
bra-line back pain - but on the right side. My OB says, well you
have a little scoliosis there, that's probably causing it - but I
had no pain before PG.
Funny, just as I'm typing this I had a thought - while I've had
almost no weight gain, certainly weight has shifted, noticeably
to my breasts (yours too I'm sure!). Maybe it's a function of
the increased upper chest weight? I was fairly small chested and
am now ample. Anyway - hot water bottle and massages are my
Dr. Arn Strasser is a chiropractor who has 20 years experience
treating back pain of pregnancy, including midback pain. He
takes a very gentle approach, he doesn't overtreat and he
regularly works with pregnant women and children. He combines
soft tissue and physical therapy as needed with gentle, non-
force and low-force techniques--and depending on the problem it
can often be fixed really quickly. We are preferred insurance
providers. We're right across the bridge in downtown San Rafael.
Visit www.chirocranial.com. Call for questions, 415-482-0500.
Susan at Dr. Strasser's drstrasser AT earthlink.net
I had nerve pain in my right leg during my pregnancy and saw a
WONDERFUL massage therapist every week. The pain didn't ever go
away, but she helped my whole body feel better and more in balance.
Other parts of my body were working overtime to try and help my back/
leg pain. Massage really helped! The massage therapist's name is Cate
Bristol--she's in Albany on Solano. I also saw a chiropractor (who
specializes in prenatal issues). Elon Bartlett: 843-1234. He's in
Berkeley. He is really kind and caring, does a thorough assessment of
yoru body, recommends great stretches, and does gentle adjustments.
My nerve pain had been progressively getting worse! until I saw him.
After a few visits, it stabilized--never went away, but it didn't get
worse. I was able to function, work and be relatively comfortable for
pregnancy. Both Cate and Elon are very tuned-in, caring healers.
I had pretty bad back pain with my second pregnancy. It was just above
the lower back. I had always been wary of chiropractic, but I was in
pain that I was willing to try anything. Glad I did. My chiropractor
me. I have seen her regularly since then (6 years now). If I remember
correctly, my problem was stretched ligaments...my joints were
spreading and the ligaments and muscles weren't being held in place
properly as a result. Or something like that. Anyway, my chiropractor's
name is Cynthia Santelli. Her practice is very near the Grand Lake
theater in Oakland: 466 Santa Clara Avenue; ! tel. 444-0188.
Your problem is very common during pregnancy there are many
factors that could be contributing to your pain. It is important
to get a proper evaluation of the problem. I am a physical
therapist and I think that you would benifit from seeing a
physical therapist who has expirence in prenatal care. I would
recommend Taylor and Thornberg Physical Therapy in Oakland, or
Center for Sports Medicine in Walnut Creek.(I work at the Walnut
Creek facility) Check with your insurance to see where you can
get physical therapy. It can make a big difference that can
Chiropractic has had great success helping pregnant women with
back pain. While you are pregnant, your body releases a hormone
which begins to relax the the ligaments in your body so that by
the time of delivery, your! pelvis can open in order to deliver
the baby. When this happens in areas where structural
imbalances are present, then you may experience pain even if
these structural imbalances did not cause pain prior to the
I have worked with many pregnant women in my practice over the
years and have gotten many referrals from midwives. I would be
glad to see if I could help you if you would like. You may
reach me at my office at 510.526-1559.
Many pregnant women under chiropractic care often report having
easier deliveries also!!!
Lori-Ann Gertonson, D.C.
I'm sorry to hear about your pain. I, too, have suffered from a
fair amount of mid-back pain during my pregnancy (I'm about 34
weeks now). In addition to wearing out my husband's thumbs,
doing prenatal yoga, swimming, and using a heating pad, I've
found a few other solutions. First, I've been getting excellent
and affordable prenatal massages from Judy Klamecki, who works
out of her home in Kensington 499-9307. Also, I've tremendously
enjoyed Dawn Loretz's prenatal exercise class on Tuesday evenings
-- info at http://dawn.dyndns.tv/index.htm. She is a physical
therapist and tailors the class to each woman's particular needs.
Finally, I don't know if this is an issue for you or not, but I
! believe I owe a fair amount of my mid-back pain to the size of my
chest. The woman who fits maternity bras at Cotton & Company
helped me find a bra that was very supportive.
I hope you feel better soon.
Sharing your pain
I also experienced severe back pain during my last pregnancy.
Jesse Allen, located in Fremont is absolutely wonderful. I was
nearly unable to walk in the 8th month of my last pregnancy and
within a week Jesse had me up and moving around. Jesse has
become a family mainstay over the years. Our entire family has
been using Jesse for over 12 years with no negative experiences.
He is excellent with pregnant women. If the drive is not too
far I would strongly recommend giving him a call; his number is
510-795-2703. If the drive is too far, ask him for a
recommendation, he's very helpful, well networked within the
bay, and a very nice person.
I had the same mid-back pain you mention during the last
trimester of my pregnancy. I also wasn't sure if it was
pregnancy related (I searched all over the internet for
information) and my OB said it probably wasn't. Possibly I
pulled something when reaching up high while trying not to lean
my stomach against the counter. There wasn't much I could do
about the pain, my husband gave me lots of massages and I used
an ice pack. I can't remember when the pain went away, it may
have lasted through childbirth.
Mid back pain is actually very common in pregnancy and after.
It's caused by altered spine alignment. When the body is out of
ideal alignment, certain muscle groups have to work too hard in
the upright position to support the spine, and become overly
tight and sometimes painful. (Opposing muscle groups weaken and
I'd suggest that you see a chiropractor who specializes in
pregnancy. Dr. Elon Bartlett, of Bartlett Chiropractic in
Berkeley, is very good.
Helene Byrne author, ''Exercise After Pregnancy: How to Look and Feel
I am only 5 weeks pregnant and have a very sore upper back
(where neck meets back). I've never had any sort of back pain
before. Could this be pregnancy-related? Has anyone had this?
I had terrible problems with upper back and neck pain during
both of my pregnancies. Like you, I'd had no back trouble
before that. I continued to have trouble until each of my
children was about 6 months old. I don't know if this is
related or not, but I also got tendonitis in one hand while
gardening during one pregnancy, and the doctor told me that
that wasn't an uncommon injury. He said that ligaments were
more vulnerable during pregnancy. I don't know if that could
help explain the back and neck problems, or if it's simply due
to the weight of the baby, both before and after birth. I
sympathize! Sorry I don't have any advice to offer, though.
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