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pain during pregnancy

Pain During Pregnancy?

by Ariss Pierce, PT, DPT, Cert. MDTLeave a Comment

Today is the day you find out you are pregnant. What does this mean for you, your partner, your life, and your body? The physiological changes that may arise are complex and depend on many factors.

Multiple scholarly journals estimate that 50% of women will experience low back pain during pregnancy. Do you have a history of low back pain? Did you sustain an injury to your sacroiliac (SI) joint due to a fall or trauma in the past? Have you ever experienced sciatica before? Even if you have never had an injury before, you can still develop pain during pregnancy.

Your Body Changes During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body will start to prepare for delivery by encouraging the ligaments (the structure that attaches bone to bone) to loosen throughout the pelvis. There are sacroiliac, sacrotuberous, sacrospinous, and iliolumbar ligaments that connect your pelvic bones. The next layer of protection is the pelvic floor muscles that encase the ligaments at the lower part of the pelvis like a bowl. The pelvic floor muscles provide support for your bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. It also acts as a sump pump to get rid of waste, enable us to urinate, pass bowel, and draw blood to the region during sexual activity. All of these muscles may have to work harder during pregnancy due to the loosening of underlying ligaments. The pressure from the growing fetus inside the uterus causes the belly to protrude and creates a downward force on these muscles while tipping the pelvis forward (like a bowl tipping forward to spill water out). The back muscles are attached to the bowl’s back and put in a short, tightened position. The abdominal muscles attached to the front of the bowl are now longer and lengthened. The myriad of changes can naturally produce a tug-a-war within the spine and pelvic region. The opposing pulling can result in low back pain during pregnancy.

Common Reasons for Pregnancy-Related Pain

As your body changes, you may notice additional pain that may include but is not limited to the following:

  1. Low back pain due to tight back and hip flexor muscles.
  2. Wrist and thumb pain due to increase blood flow and inflammation in the small hand joints.
  3. Pubic symphysis pain in the front, the middle area of your pelvis due to increased laxity (looseness) and movement of the pelvic bones.
  4. Diastasis recti, where the midline fibrous tissue between the six-pack muscles stretches or separates, causing the abdominal muscles to retract back, resulting in loss of core spinal support.

Tips for a Pain-Free Pregnancy

If you or someone you know is experiencing increased or new musculoskeletal pain due to pregnancy, don’t hesitate to call your medical doctor to inform them. You can contact your nearest Athletico Physical Therapy to work with a pelvic floor therapist to undergo a thorough exam to address your unique needs.

If hand pain is your issue, you will benefit from seeing a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). These individuals are Occupational Therapists that specialize in diagnosing and treating wrist/hand pain. They can make a splint to support your small finger joints during pregnancy.

Do not let musculoskeletal pain dampen the enjoyable time of being pregnant. Protect your body so you can be a happy and healthy Mommy! Get started by scheduling a Free Assessment today. Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.

Request a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1 Katonis P, Kampourolou A, Agelopoulous A, et al. Pregnancy Related Low Back Pain. National Institute of Health, 2020,
Accessed 16, Sept 2021.

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