More than two thirds of women experience back pain during pregnancy, but research has shown that physical therapy can help reduce and prevent pregnancy-related low back and pelvic joint pain. This pain is often related to both biomechanical changes in body shape and posture, which may put more stress on the lower back, and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, which can cause increased laxity in the joints of the low back and pelvis. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends exercise as a way to help ease low back pain, and a trained physical therapist can help find safe and comfortable ways to exercise and perform daily activities with less pain during pregnancy. Physical therapists can also teach ways to improve posture and alignment as well as ways to stretch and strengthen specific muscles in the abdomen, low back, and hip, which are important for reducing stress on painful joints. Bracing or taping for the low back and pelvis can also be beneficial for some women during pregnancy.
Exercise in general is one of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy-related low back pain. Walking, strengthening and stretching exercises, balance exercises, and water aerobics can all be healthy ways to manage back pain during pregnancy. However while some discomfort during pregnancy is considered normal, back pain that is sharp, intense, or persistent may be a sign of preterm labor, urinary tract infection, or other complications of pregnancy. Back pain should be evaluated by your obstetrician or a qualified healthcare provider if these symptoms become severe or are accompanied by vaginal bleeding, abdominal cramping, or burning during urination. In most cases you don’t need a referral from your doctor before seeing a physical therapist, but it is a good idea to talk with your obstetrician before setting up an appointment.
For more information regarding pregnancy-related low back pain, visit
Blog post provided by: Janelle Hayes DPT and Sarah McNurlin DPT
Janelle and Sarah are both Physical Therapists at Intermountain Medical Center Physical Therapy. The emphasis on of their practice is in treating orthopedic conditions with particular interest in spine pathology and prenatal/postpartum back pain. To schedule an appointment
with either of them call 801-507-2050. Click here for a link to their clinic website.