So you or someone you love is pregnant, congratulations! This is an exciting time full of massive changes for the whole family. With pregnancy, the body grows and changes with incredible speed. So while Mom might be happy as can be, she may be experiencing some discomfort caused by weight gain, changes in posture, and a flood of hormones. But fear not, we’ll discuss the most common causes and treatments of pregnancy-associated back pain, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence.
It’s no secret that back pain is one of the biggest pain issues for pregnant women, but what causes it? Well, changes in posture, joint compression, and muscle pain are common causes. During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin that softens and loosens the ligaments in joints. Relaxin allows the pelvic bones to move to accommodate the growing baby. These newly limber joints may then become unstable and as a result, many people experience pain and discomfort especially where the pelvis meets the spine at the sacroiliac joint.
So what can be done to help? Physiotherapy can be used to manage back pain whether you’re pregnant or not. Many women don’t know that physiotherapy is an option to ease the pregnancy-related back pain but it is! Seek an assessment from a trusted physiotherapist, and they will develop a treatment plan that specifically targets your care needs. Depending on your requirements, treatment can include the use of:
- Joint stability exercises
- Joint mobilization exercises
- Therapeutic tape
Talking about pelvic pain can be embarrassing but it’s important to discuss it if you’re experiencing it. So what is pelvic pain or pelvic girdle pain (PGP) as it’s commonly called? It is pain that is located in the front or back of the pelvis and in some cases radiates down to the groin, buttocks, and/or thighs and it can be excruciating. In addition to pain, there may be a clicking sound coming from the pelvis and persons with the condition may begin to waddle or shuffle. Sufferers may have difficulty walking, climbing up stairs, or doing any weight bearing activity. Pelvic joint instability, changing posture, and a shifting centre of gravity are common causes for PGP. The onset of PGP can be as early as the first trimester and can continue postpartum.
PGP can seriously limit your ability to do daily activities while pregnant. Left untreated the pelvic pain can gradually increase in severity as the pregnancy progresses making everyday life less-than-fun, to say the least. But, good news! Seeking treatment at the onset symptoms could mean less pain overall and a relief from pelvic girdle pain. A treatment plan will be individually designed for you following an assessment by a physiotherapist. Physical therapies to help relieve PGP include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Joint mobilization exercises
Pre and post pregnancy might be the only time when you’re scared of sneezing, coughing, or laughing. Loss of urine control is a common side effect of pregnancy caused by a dysfunction of the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor dysfunction is that inability to control the muscles in the pelvic floor and happens when the muscles in the pelvic floor become weak or damaged. The inability to control the pelvic floor muscles can lead to both urinary and fecal incontinence. You might have pelvic floor dysfunction if you experience:
- Painful and/or frequent urination
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Loss of urine when exercising, coughing, sneezing, or laughing
You can end the fear of sneezing by seeking treatment from a qualified physiotherapist. In fact, pelvic floor physiotherapy specifically focuses on strengthening muscles, ligaments, and joints located in the pelvic region. The best part is, you do not need a referral* to seek treatment so if you have any of the above symptoms you should seek out a pelvic floor assessment from a qualified physiotherapist. After an assessment, a treatment plan will be developed to address specific concerns. Pelvic floor exercises for women focus on:
- Improving bladder and rectum control
- Strengthening pelvic muscles
While back pain, pelvic pain, and incontinence may be the reality of your pregnancy you don’t need to live with it! In fact, these conditions can be quickly and easily treated by a physiotherapist, no referral* is required so you can begin treatment today! By seeking care when symptoms first arise, you can work to naturally manage your pregnancy symptoms without the use of medication.
The following clinics have practitioners with advanced training in pelvic floor physiotherapy.
- Midland Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre – pt Health
- Cornwall Physiotherapy – pt Health
- Stratford Physiotherapy Centre – pt Health
- Tavistock Physiotherapy Centre – pt Health
- pt Health Dellridge
- Elmsdale Integrated Health Services – pt Health
- Greenwood Physiotherapy – pt Health
*A doctor referral may be required to access your third party insurance