My Back is killing me! Pregnancy related Back Pain and Sciatica

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This is part three of a five part series on Back Pain. Click here to read part 1. Click here to read part 2.

Pregnancy related Back Pain

Most women develop back pain during their pregnancy. This is because of the pressure the growing uterus places on the lower spine as well as hormonal changes.

During pregnancy, the expanding uterus causes shifts in the mother’s centre of gravity.  Many mothers will relieve this strain by leaning backwards to compensate for the new postural change. As the uterus grows, it stretches the abdominal muscles, which in turn, weakens them.

Nerves being pinched by the growing uterus can also cause back pain. The extra weight from the baby puts additional stress on the muscles and joints, which is why most pregnant women complain of back pains at the end of each day.

Hormonal changes also causes back pain because ligaments attaching the pelvic bone to the spine loosen during pregnancy.  Every day activities such as rolling out of bed, getting up from a chair, sitting, standing or walking for long periods of time can cause an surprising amount of pain.

Back pain typically appears in later stages of the pregnancy and usually worsens as the pregnancy progresses; it could even persist after the baby is born.

There are two types of lower back pain:

  • Lumbar pain: Pain over and around the spine usually at the waist.
  • Posterior pain: Pain lower than the lumbar region, in the buttocks or down one or both legs. Posterior pain is often confused with Sciatica, however only a low percentage of women suffer from Sciatica.


Pain caused along the path of the sciatic nerve when it is pinched. This nerve runs along the lower back through hips and buttocks down the legs. The sciatic nerve could be compressed due to a herniated disc, narrowing of the spine or a bone spur of the spine. Sciatica typically only affects one side of the body.

Sciatica often causes a feeling of numbness, inflammation and pain along the affected leg.

Sciatic pain can range from mild to severe, with the milder cases being solved through treatments such as Physiotherapy and Massage therapy. Patients with severe sciatica associated with leg weakness and bowel or bladder changes may be candidates for surgery to remove the bone spur or part of the herniated disc pinching the nerve.

This article is for information only.  Please seek medical advice if you notice any symptoms.


Next week: Acute and Chronic Pain.

Content sourced from WebMD and photo courtesy Flickr

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