Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

By: Dr. Stephen Szaro, DC

Changes to the Mothers Body

The Case for Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

The most obvious physical changes that are likely to affect the spine will begin to occur during the second trimester. As the uterus grows to accommodate the fetus, the lumbar curve of the spine will increase to account for the stomach protruding further forward.

The pelvis will also start to shift position as the normally tough pelvic ligaments soften in preparation for eventual delivery. In order to counterbalance for the abdomen protruding forward, many pregnant women end up leaning somewhat backward as they stand or walk. This can then place pressure on the pelvis, the sacroiliac joint and the ligaments, causing additional pain. Abnormal postures can also cause pressure on the delicate nerves in the lower back leading to sciatica.

All of these changes are not isolated to the back and pelvis, but will also affect the knees, ankles and feet. All of these shifts in the normal position of the back can also affect posture, which may lead to sciatica and edema (water retention) in the ankles and knees).

Water retention and swelling throughout the body can also lead to tendonitis, especially in the hand or wrist and may even cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

Most common conditions to encounter during pregnancy:

  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Sacroiliac joint pain
  • Mid back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dequevain’s tenosynovitis (thumb/wrist pain)

How can chiropractic care during pregnancy help? What treatments are effective?

  • Chiropractic manipulation/mobilization: Spinal manipulation or adjustments can be very effective for reducing pain and creating better range of motion.  Some women, depending on the size of the baby and how far along they are in pregnancy, may not be able to tolerate manipulative techniques.  Instead, there are muscle energy mobilization techniques that may be just as or more effective in these situations.
  • Active release technique (ART) – ART is an active form of therapeutic massage that uses the patient’s own motion to create tension on the muscle and ligaments to create better tissue extensibility and reduce scar tissue/myofascial adhesions that create pain. 
  • Therapeutic exercise – most chiropractors who treat pregnant patients will have a regimen of exercises that are appropriate for pregnancy and will promote better stability of the spine and pelvis.  Better stability of the spine will make the patient more comfortable and functional throughout their 9 months. 
  • Bracing – some patients who have severe pain may require bracing to help with stability of the pelvis.  This can also be helpful if the baby is very large or the mother is carrying multiples (like my wife did!).

As you can see, there are many reasons to seek chiropractic care during pregnancy. Luckily, there are just as many treatments. If you’d like to speak to a chiropractor about your care during pregnancy, our Chiropractic Care Department would love to hear from you. Start by filling out the form below.

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