We are often asked about the efficacy of Chiropractic care in pregnant women. Many women experience a variety of symptoms while pregnant, and researchers all over the world are starting to find that Chiropractic care (in coherence with proper Medical care) can be very beneficial to a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery period.
It has been reported that approximately 50% of all pregnant women experience back pain during their pregnancy, and 50% to 75% of women experience back pain during labor1. It is also reported that only 21% of women with back pain seek help from their primary care provider. In other research, a 2 part survey was mailed out to 950 pregnant women and 87 allopathic providers of prenatal health care. The results of this survey showed that only 31% of respondents used alternative therapies during pregnancy, and chiropractic care was the third most common form of treatment sought (only 7% of respondents utilized the benefits of regular chiropractic care while pregnant)2.
Low back pain is generally described as an inevitable complication of pregnancy, but many Doctors of Chiropractic would disagree. Most women who are pregnant or have experienced pregnancy can recall moments where they had some form of low back pain, but why is it so common in pregnant women? The answer lies in the changes a woman’s body goes through as her child develops. As the uterus expands, it can pull the sacral base (a large, triangular bone at the base of your spine) forward, causing her pelvis to tilt anterior (or forward) and increasing flexion in her hips. This hip and pelvis positioning will lead to what is known as an increased lumbar lordosis (lordosis is the anatomical definition for the curve of your lumbar spine, it typically is curved forward, in increased curve towards your belly in the lumbar spine is known as hyperlordosis). As the child develops and weight is gained in pregnancy (from 25 to 35 pounds), weight is projected forward in the increased lumbar lordosis. This weight and forward projection increases stress on the intervertebral discs and facet joints in the spine. An increased curve in a pregnant woman’s lumbar spine can add pressure on not only the sacrum, but also the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis (the joint between the iliac crest of the pelvis and the sacrum)1. These changes can lead to tightening of both the iliopsoas and piriformis muscles, two muscles that when tight are commonly known to cause low back pain. In addition, the increase in progesterone, estrogen and relaxin throughout the pregnancy (especially in the third trimester) can bring about pelvic hypermobility and decreases spinal stabilization1. All of these factors can contribute to the low back pain commonly experienced by pregnant women, which leads some to seek chiropractic care!
Shaw3 reports that the results of a chiropractic and medical collaborative study which indicated that 75% of pregnant patients who received chiropractic care during their pregnancies stated that they had relief from their pregnancy-related low back pain. Another study of chiropractic treatment provided to pregnant women showed that out of 17 patients, 16 demonstrated clinically important improvement from low back pain. The average time until relief was found in this study was 4.5 days. The average number of treatments when substantial relief was reported was 1.8 treatments4. This observed evidence shows that chiropractic care can be a safe and effective means of treating or preventing low back pain while pregnant.
Changes Within SC (and Marshfield) is lucky to have a Diplomate in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics (DICCP) . Dr. Patti Schumacher DC, DICCP has taken 3+ years (over 360 hours) of extra education beyond her Doctorate to go above and beyond in her knowledge of caring for both soon to be mothers and young children after they are born. Many of the causes of pregnancy-related low back pain are caused by factors that Doctors of Chiropractic treat every single day! Taking care of a pregnant patient requires knowledge beyond what is learned in school, and experience, both of which Dr. Patti have. If you are pregnant or know someone complaining of pregnancy-related symptoms, why not come to see a Doctor who has experience in specialized and specific care of pregnancy-related symptoms? Changes Within is a great place to start your search for relief!
– Dr. E
- Borggren C. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. JCM. 2007; 6(1): 70-74.
- Wang SM, DeZinno P, Fermo L, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine for low back pain in pregnancy: a cross-sectional survey. J altern Complement Med 2005; 11(3): 459-64.
- Shaw G. When to adjust: chiropractic and pregnancy. J Am Chiropr Assoc 2003; 40(11):8-16.
- Lisi AJ. Chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain of pregnancy; a retrospective case series. J Midwifery Women’s Health 2006; 1(1):e7-e10.