Pregnancy Dysfunctions


Pelvic and Low Back Pain

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) and Diastasis Symphysis Pubis (DSP)

Rib Pain

Pelvic and Low Back Pain

At least 50 per cent of pregnant women experience back pain and 10 per cent of those report discomfort severe enough to disrupt their daily routines.
A woman's center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of her pelvis during pregnancy. Although a woman's sacrum, or posterior section of the pelvis, has enough depth to enable her to carry a baby, the displaced weight still increases the stress on her joints. As the baby grows in size, the woman's weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on the spinal disks. In compensation, the normal curvature of the upper spine increases, as well. Also, the average healthy weight gain is more than 30 pounds and this extra weight places considerable stress on the back, feet, ankles and knees.
In the third trimester, levels of a hormone called “relaxin” increase ten times. This also contributes to back pain. Relaxin loosens your joints to allow the pelvis to accommodate the enlarging uterus. These loose joints force the muscles of the back and pelvis to work overtime to keep you upright and balanced.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

Numerous studies show that back pain can be reduced by manual therapies during pregnancy. In a study of 170 Canadian women those who received chiropractic care reported less pain both during pregnancy and during labour.
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Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) and Diastasis Symphysis Pubis (DSP)

SPD during pregnancy is a condition that causes excessive movement of the pubic symphysis, as well as associated pain, because of a misalignment of the pelvis thanks to the hormone Relaxin. It affects up to one in four pregnant women to varying degrees, with 7% of sufferers continuing to experience serious symptoms postpartum.
Any activity that involves lifting one leg at a time or parting the legs tends to be particularly painful. Lifting the leg to put on clothes, getting out of a car, bending over, sitting down or getting up, walking up stairs, standing on one leg, lifting heavy objects, and walking in general tend to be difficult at times. Many women report that moving or turning over in bed is especially excruciating.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

Although the best idea may be to resolve chronic SPD pain through realigning the pelvis girdle and soft tissues with gentle chiropractic adjustments, most women have some residual pubic and low back discomfort sticking around during pregnancy and the early postpartum weeks because of hormones. Therefore, tips for coping with pubic pain tend to be a focus of many SPD websites. Many of the suggestions include:
  • Use a pillow between your legs when sleeping; body pillows are a great investment!
  • Use a pillow under your 'bump' (pregnancy tummy) when sleeping
  • Keep your legs and hips as parallel/symmetrical as possible when moving or turning in bed
  • Some women also find it helpful to have their partners stabilize their hips and hold them 'together' when rolling over in bed or otherwise adjusting position
  • Swimming may help relieve pressure on the joint
  • When standing, stand symmetrically, with your weight evenly distributed through both legs
  • Avoid 'straddle' movements
  • An ice pack may feel soothing and help reduce inflammation in the pubic area
  • Move slowly and without sudden movements
  • If sex is uncomfortable for you, use lots of pillows under your knees, or try other positions
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Rib Pain

During the last stages of your pregnancy, your rib cage is expanding to make room for your lungs, caused by pressure from the top of your growing uterus, and for your baby, who may decide to stretch out and push his feet up under your ribs. Some women will feel pain in the upper right corner of their abdomen over the last few ribs. This may be caused by inflammation of cartilage attached to the ribs due to subluxations that cause the nerves between the ribs to get irritated.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

Chiropractic adjustments remove the subluxations to decrease the pain and return normal function.
You may find some temporary relief by:
  • Posture, posture, posture! Sit up straight, no slouching, this will help move the ribs up giving you some temporary relief.
  • Make yourself as comfortable as possible by wearing loose fitting clothes
  • Support yourself with cushions when lying down
  • Avoid sitting down for too long – get up and take regular stretch breaks or short walks
  • Exercises that help you stretch out and support your body, like swimming
Stretch! Here is a really effective exercise from midwife, Alan Rooney:
“Stand facing a wall. With your feet 40cms from the wall, cross your arms in front of your face. Then lean your crossed arms on the wall sliding them up the wall above your head and stretching yourself up as far as possible. Hold the position for as long as comfortable. This lifts the diaphragm and rib cage up off the uterus and really provides huge temporary relief, especially if the pain is caused by a breech baby’s hard little head wedged under your ribs.”
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