Acupuncture Relieves Pregnancy-Related Lower Back Pain Naturally
Is nagging lower back pain keeping you from enjoying the last months of your pregnancy? Although pain relievers might have been your go-to solution before you were pregnant, concerns about your unborn baby could make you hesitate to take medication now. Fortunately, acupuncture offers a safe way to relieve and manage your back pain symptoms.
Why Back Pain Happens During Pregnancy
Back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy. In fact, 50 to 80% of pregnant women report experiencing the pain, according to Spine Universe. Pregnancy causes temporary posture changes that increase the risk of back pain. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains that posture issues occur when your growing uterus weakens the muscles in your abdomen.
Your abdominal muscles support your core and help keep your back strong. When the muscles are weak, stress and strain on the bones and muscles in your back increase. As your abdominal muscles loosen and become weaker, other muscles tighten, increasing stress and strain on your back.
During the latter part of your pregnancy, your body increases the production of relaxin, a hormone that improves the flexibility of your joints and ligaments. Although relaxin makes it easier to deliver your baby, loose joints and ligaments affect the stability of your pelvis and contribute to posture changes and low back pain. At the same time relaxin rises, production of the hormone estrogen also increases. Both hormones cause your pelvis to widen, according to SPINE-Health, which could be a factor if you have pain in your back and thighs.
How Acupuncture Relieves Back Pain
It's nearly impossible to find a comfortable position when your back hurts. No matter which way you turn, the pain just doesn't go away. If you've become frustrated by your back pain, acupuncture offers an ideal alternative pain-relief option. Treatments ease your symptoms by:
- Reducing Inflammation. Acupuncture decreases inflammation and swelling in the joints and tissues in your back, hips and pelvis. Once inflammation subsides, you may notice less pain and stiffness.
- Improving Balance. The hair-thin needles your acupuncturist inserts into your skin during acupuncture treatment restore the normal movement of Qi, a life force essential for good health. Acupuncture relieves Qi blockages and pain and helps keep your body balanced.
- Triggering Natural Pain Relievers. Acupuncture treatments also increase the production of serotonin and endorphins. These hormones control pain naturally and regulate your moods. In a systematic review recently published in BMJ Open, researchers concluded that acupuncture was safe for pregnant women and could help reduce low back and pelvic pain. Women in several of the studies included in the review reported better physical function and quality of life thanks to acupuncture treatment. In another study in New Zealand, 89% of pregnant women reported an improvement in lumbopelvic (lower back and pelvic) pain after acupuncture treatment.
- Blocking or Decreasing Pain Signals. Treatments may have a positive effect on nerve receptors that process pain signals. Acupuncture affects pathways in the brain that are part of the pain recognition process and can help prevent signals from reaching your brain. When the signals are interrupted, you won't feel pain or may notice decreased pain.
- Improving Circulation. Acupuncture improves blood flow to your back. Your blood not only carries nutrients that help heal tissues but also removes waste products that could contribute to pain.
- Stopping Muscle Spasms. Spasms are an unfortunate part of lower back pain for many pregnant women. Acupuncture relaxes cramping muscles, which relieves pain and increases range of motion.
Looking for a natural solution for your lower back pain? Contact our office to schedule an acupuncture appointment.
Spine Universe: Back Pain During Pregnancy, 9/26/2022
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Back Pain During Pregnancy, 12/2021
PubMed: Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies: Treating Pain in Pregnancy with Acupuncture: Observational Study Results for a Free Clinic in New Zealand, 2/2018
BMJ: Acupuncture Can Relieve Lower Back/Pelvic Pain Often Experienced During Pregnancy
HealthCMI: Acupuncture Relieves Pregnancy Pain, 8/9/2018
BabyCenter: Is Acupuncture Safe During Pregnancy?, 9/30/2021