Pregnancy-related back pain is a common complaint, and it can be easy to assume that it will pass once the baby has arrived and you are back to your normal activities. But for many women, the pain does not pass and can even worsen with subsequent pregnancies. Here are some common culprits you might not have considered as the root of your back pain.
1. Hormonal Changes
During pregnancy, hormones signal your ligaments to loosen in preparation for delivery. A hormone fittingly called relaxin is produced in greater amounts in preparation for childbirth to relax ligaments in the pelvic floor and around the SI joints and to allow for widening of the cervix.
This can result in strain or lack of support in the back, and can contribute to common pregnancy-induced lower back pain. In addition, the weight of the baby and weakened abdominal muscles can increase strain on the back which can result in soreness or discomfort.
2. Changes in Posture
Pregnancy-related back pain frequently occurs where the pelvis meets the spine, known as the sacroiliac (SI) joints. As the baby’s size and weight increases during pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity naturally shifts forward, rotating the pelvic bones downward leading to increased strain and greater load on the SI joints. This change in position of the pelvis does not typically fully return to original position after pregnancy.
Wearing a support belt that stabilizes the pelvis and relieves pressure on your SI joints can help with the discomfort.
3. SI Joint Injury
A commonly overlooked source of lingering lower back pain after pregnancy is injury to the SI joints. The SI-joints are responsible for transferring weight and forces between the upper body and legs which is an essential function during activities such as sitting, standing, walking, running or jumping.
The SI joints may be particularly prone to injury during pregnancy (see above) or delivery. Lower back pain that does not resolve after childbirth should be evaluated to determine whether the SI joints may be causing the pain.
While some discomfort in the pelvic region during and immediately following pregnancy is common, pain that continues for six months or more after delivery should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Pain in the lower back and buttocks may be caused by the SI joint, hip, spine, or a combination of these structures. The good news for those dealing with back pain after pregnancy is that treatment options do exist – but in order to receive proper treatment, the correct diagnosis needs to be made.
If it’s determined that the source of your pain is due to trauma or degeneration of the SI joint, surgical advances such as minimally invasive SI joint fusion with the iFuse Implant System may be an option. The iFuse Procedure is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed in an operating room. The procedure is intended to immediately stabilize and fuse the SI joint and takes about an hour. Recovery time is significantly less than with an open surgery.
If you are experiencing back pain, especially if you have been pregnant, talk to your doctor to evaluate potential causes and determine the best treatment plan for you. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, strengthening or stretching exercises, or – in some cases – interventional procedures, such as injections, to treat the symptoms. If these non-surgical treatments do not solve the problem, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be indicated. The good news is that treatment options are available and chronic pain does not have to be a way of life.
Only your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for you. The information above is not treatment advice and SI-BONE does not recommend or endorse any particular course of treatment or medical choice. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.