Obstetricians and Chiropractors Working Together

Christopher Duncan DC
February 2007

Low back pain and pregnancy can go hand in hand.  In fact, studies show, as many as 80% of pregnant women experience low back pain.  However, just because it is common does not mean that it should be viewed as normal or untreatable.  Like back pain during pregnancy, poor eyesight is extremely common today, but we don’t just endure it.  Optometry can provide relief to those with bad eyesight.  Similarly there is effective treatment and relief for low back pain during pregnancy; it does not simply need to be endured, but that is just what is happening.  In a recent study at Yale it was found that only 32% of women report their low back pain to their healthcare provider despite the pain being so severe that it caused sleep problems and impaired their daily activities.

Because pregnant women cannot use standard medical approaches to reduce the pain, due to the possible effects on the unborn child of prescribed medication, they often do nothing.  Some providers don’t know the different ways available to treat this problem.  Some just recommend stretching and hot baths.  A few providers have discovered a way to help their patients without the use of drugs.  Obstetric physicians and midwives are increasingly utilizing chiropractic and massage therapy for their patients along with educating their patients regarding home care options that can provide relief. In conjunction with traditional medical care chiropractic and massage have been found to decrease pregnancy pains, decrease labor times, improve the quality of life while pregnant, and decrease the risk of serious complications overall.

Pregnancy is a time when a woman’s body is going through drastic changes and often pain. There are many reasons for back pain during pregnancy. Most women gain between 20-35lbs during pregnancy which adds stress to joints. Hormonal changes in a woman’s body causes joint laxity, which aids in the birthing process, but also contributes to decreased support for the joints. As the dimensions of her body change so does her center of gravity. Her body is not used to this new position and her muscles attempt to compensate for the change.This can lead to muscular imbalances, increased muscle fatigue, and abnormal strain.

The largest difficulty in getting these women treatment is a lack of knowledge.  If you have poor eyesight everyone knows you go to the eye doctor.  Not everyone knows about chiropractic and what it can do for pregnant women even their care providers may not know.  Here in Utah County some doctors are trying to change that.  Working with obstetricians, midwives, and birth educators I am trying to get the word out.  I am giving lectures on pregnancy and back pain in clinics and guest speaking in childbirth education classes.  If you treat pregnant women or know someone who is pregnant do them a favor and let them know that they don’t have to suffer through the pain.  There is help.

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