Pregnancy/Postpartum-related back pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


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Airrosti’s Brooke Green, DC, discusses some of the common causes of prenatal and postpartum low back and hip pain. Find out how hormonal changes within the body can affect joint health during pregnancy and learn how different treatment methods approach pregnancy-related pain

Back pain during pregnancy can range from mild pain associated with specific activities to more acute or chronic pain that persists throughout the day. Pain most often occurs between the fifth and seventh month of pregnancy; however, low back pain can begin as early as 8 to 12 weeks after becoming pregnant and continue after delivery.


Pregnant woman sitting and holding lower back in pain.

The common causes of back pain during and after pregnancy are related to lumbar (low back) and posterior pelvic (hip) pain. This can arise due to several factors related to pregnancy, such as weight fluctuations, changes to your hormones or musculoskeletal structure, as well as fatigue.

In addition, pregnancy-related back or hip pain can be worsened by certain activities or movements, such as sleeping on your back, bending forward at the waist or lifting an object with your back, as well as not getting enough physical activity through the day.

back pain during pregnancy

Lumbar pain during pregnancy is generally located at and above the waistline in the center of the back or on one or both sides of the spine. This condition often worsens when bending, lifting, sitting and/or standing for extended periods. Tenderness may also be present in the muscles along the spine during pregnancy.

You may also experience sharp pains due to pressure on your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down the back of your thigh to the foot. Sciatic nerve pain can occur from the increasing weight of your baby causing a shift in your center of gravity (and pelvis) putting the Sciatic nerve under tension. Ever-changing hormones cause your ligaments to become looser which can decrease the stability around your lower back as well.

Hip pain during pregnancy

Posterior pelvic pain is often felt deep within the hips and waistline. Pregnancy pelvic pain may be experienced on one or both sides. It can extend down into the glutes and upper portion of the back of the thighs. This type of pain may not resolve itself with rest, and morning stiffness may be present.

Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction

Chronic pelvic and low back pain during pregnancy can also be a sign of Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction (SPD). This condition occurs when the ligaments in your hip joints loosen, causing your pelvis to widen and become unbalanced, which can lead to stiffness or pain in the pelvis.

Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction occurs frequently in pregnant women. While it is not medically harmful to your baby, it can leave you in severe chronic pain and affect your mobility. You may experience increased pain and/or discomfort from simple activities like walking or going up and down the stairs.

Labor Pain During Pregnancy

It is important to note that labor pain is a different type of pain. The pain can be located throughout the low back but most often it is associated with abdominal cramping and/or pain. It often has the following characteristics: the pain, increases in intensity and frequency over a short period of time, it is not affected by your level of activity, and it is difficult to find any position of relief. This is not the pregnancy-related low back/hip pain

Airrosti can have an impact on or treat. If you are unsure if the pain you are experiencing is in fact labor pain, please contact your healthcare provider immediately.

*Disclaimer: While some discomfort during pregnancy is normal, periods of prolonged or intense pain could be a sign of an underlying condition. It’s important to maintain open communication with your doctor and health care team about what activities you can reasonably do during and after pregnancy to help minimize any potential risks.

Pregnancy/postpartum-related back & Hip pain treatment

Pregnant woman being treated at physical therapy.

Traditionally, pregnant women suffering from back pain had few treatment options due to the significant risks involved with common treatment options like pharmaceuticals, injections, and imaging tests. Most available options may offer only partial and temporary relief from the pain.

Pregnancy back pain treatment options may include:

  • An ice pack or warm compresses.
  • Possible OTC medications to treat inflammation.
  • Adjusting sleeping patterns or habits, such as sleeping on the side instead of on your back.
  • Making lifestyle changes, such as decreasing workload or the amount of physical activity you are doing.
  • Massages or manual therapy, including exercises and stretches as recommended.

HOW AIRROSTI CAN HELP: Pregnancy Back pain relief & beyond

Pregnant woman exercising outside while smiling.

Any pregnancy-related pain that lasts longer than six to eight weeks should be treated to avoid chronic back pain or recurring back problems. Chronic lower back pain during pregnancy that lasts for weeks to months is a common predictor for postpartum back pain. For this reason, pregnant women are often encouraged to seek appropriate treatment during pregnancy.

However, even after childbirth, you may not be out of the woods quite yet. Postpartum, you may experience residual aches and pains or develop new conditions from parenthood, such as postural changes leading to upper back pain.

Airrosti offers noninvasive and highly effective treatment for low back and hip pain. Our Providers diagnose and design a treatment plan to help resolve pain at the source and help improve soft tissue and joint strength, mobility, and stability. Furthermore, we also provide tools and resources to continue your recovery at home and minimize the risk of future injuries.

If you or someone you know has been struggling with pregnancy/postpartum-related hip or low back pain and need some relief, schedule an appointment with an Airrosti Provider today, either in-clinic or virtual. To learn more about treatment with Airrosti, click here or give us a call at (800) 404-6050.

All Airrosti treatment provided during pregnancy is co-managed with your prenatal care provider. Your Airrosti Provider will work closely with your prenatal care provider to ensure you receive the best, most comprehensive care during your pregnancy.

Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

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