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Physical Therapy Can Help Pregnancy Pain

An increase in hormones and changing body structures with pregnancy can lead to aches and pains in numerous areas of a woman's body. Physical therapy can work to alleviate many of these conditions to allow a more enjoyable pregnancy.

How Can Physical Therapy Help

During pregnancy there is an increase in the hormone relaxin released in the body to allow the pelvic ligaments to loosen and make room for growing baby. However this "loosening" of the ligaments is experienced throughout the body and often creates pain in joints including lumbar spine, sacroiliac, and hip. In combination with increased weight, altered pelvic positioning and increase breast size it is easy to imagine how pain and discomfort can occur.

Many women may feel there is nothing to do but endure such pain for the duration of the pregnancy. However, physical therapy can help not only help to alleviate pain with stretching and massage but improve pelvic and abdominal musculature with strengthening activities to assist with the birthing process as well as reduce pain following delivery.

What to Expect

Initially patients will be evaluated by a licensed physical therapist with knowledge of pregnancy and how it effects a woman's body. During this evaluation measurements will be taken of strength and range of motion to assess any deficits. At this time the patient will communicate with the therapist about their specific sites of pain and goals for treatment. Much of the treatment for conditions occurring during pregnancy involve light stretching and strengthening activities as well as soft tissue massage. Many of the exercises can also be performed as part of a home program.

Pregnancy Conditions Treated by Physical Therapy

  • Pelvic Floor Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain
  • Mid and Low Back Pain
  • Leg Pain/Cramping
  • Hip Pain

Research

The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that women who experience pelvic and low back pain associated with pregnancy and see physical therapy treatment experience reduced pain, improved functional mobility, and less time away from work and other daily activities.