Back Pain After Pregnancy

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Persistent or newly developed pain in the lower back after pregnancy, also known as postpartum back pain, usually lasts for 6 months but may continue up to a decade. Postpartum back pain mostly occurs while performing activities that involve body movements, such as walking, lifting, bending, and/or carrying the new baby, and may be relieved with rest, exercise, and home treatments. The type and severity of pain depend on the underlying cause.

Causes of Postpartum Back Pain

The vast majority of women who experience postpartum back pain develop the symptoms due to pregnancy-related changes in the musculoskeletal system that persist after delivery. In some cases, women may undergo bodily trauma during childbirth that directly involves the lower back and pelvic bones, joints, and/or soft tissues, causing additional pain and discomfort. The type of delivery—vaginal, instrumental, or cesarean section (C-section) may also have a role to play in postpartum back pain.

Loss of muscle tone and joint instability

The effects of pregnancy on the muscles and joints in the lower body vary. A surge in the levels of relaxin, estrogen, and progesterone hormones causes considerable joint relaxation during pregnancy. After delivery, the levels of these hormones decline significantly, causing the joints to return to the pre-pregnant state. It takes an average of 6 to 8 weeks for the joints and surrounding tissues to stabilize and bear weight effectively.

The sudden decrease in hormone levels may cause localized and/or overall effects, such as:

  • A general feeling of tiredness
  • Activity intolerance
  • Pain in the lower back and hip
  • Back pain while walking or performing an exercise

If unsupported posture and body mechanics are used at this time, the risk of further trauma to the lower back and hip are higher.

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