Pregnancy and upper back pain

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Pregnancy and Back Pain


Pregnant upper back pain
Pregnancy and Upper Back Pain

Pregnancy and Upper Back pain are often associated in the late stages of pregnancy.

If you are reading this, you have probably pregnant and have already experienced some upper back pain and are wondering what you can do about it! Upper back pain is often present in the latter stages (third trimester) of pregnancy. This is primarily because the increase in weight of your growing baby (and the dropping down of your baby!) pulls your centre of gravity and weight forwards. This causes a change in the posture of your back which increases the pressure on your upper back, and in turn may cause pain.

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Pregnancy & Upper Back Pain

Your changing body

Normally, your spine is naturally in a gentle S-Shape position - that is your neck curves inwards, your mid-back curves outwards and your lower back curves inwards again. These natural curves help dissipate the weight of your head and torso evenly throughout your spine.

As you progress through pregnancy, your body changes. Your baby is growing, as is your own body - getting ready for the birth.

The weight of your growing baby will shift your centre of gravity towards the front of your body. This means that muscles that didn’t have to work as hard in the past now have to swing into action to keep you standing and stop you from falling over! Your posture changes and adapts to this situation, and all this change can cause excess pressure on certain parts of the spine - causing pain and discomfort.

Upper back pain can also be caused in pregnancy by the excess strain placed on the ligaments in your upper back due to the hormonal changes that occur when you are pregnant. These hormonal changes can result in excess laxity to ligaments - particularly in the pelvis. This may caused increased pressure and stress on your upper back resulting in pain.

Treating upper back pain

Treatment of upper back pain associated with pregnancy involves showing you how to support these changes in your spinal posture through exercises, positioning, pillows and supports where necessary. A Chartered Physiotherapist will advise you on the appropriate treatments for your upper back pain associated with your pregnancy.

Prevention of upper back pain associated with pregnancy involves posture correction from the outset. An understanding of normal posture compared to the posture that evolves when you are pregnant will help you prevent upper back pain and many more posture-related pains that occur when you are pregnant. I found this video from Sam Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy is a useful demonstration of this.

Remember - by managing and understanding your upper back pain during pregnancy - you will help other potential postural problems from developing and enhance your wellbeing and the well-being of your child!

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While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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