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Managing Back Pain during Pregnancy: Tips for Expecting Mothers


Back pain during pregnancy is a very common but few women receive adequate treatment or know what to do. Low back pain affects between 45 and 75% of women at some stage during pregnancy and about 34% of pregnant women suffer from back pain at one time. Up to 1 in 5 women take sick leave because of their pain.

Causes of Back Pain during Pregnancy

The normal changes that occur during pregnancy, such as increased curvature of the lower spine (lordosis) and laxity of the ligaments and sacroiliac joints at the back of the pelvis, can create weakness and instability which may lead to pain. These changes are natural to enable delivery, but they can also cause discomfort for expecting mothers.

Self-Management Techniques

Expecting mothers can take steps to self-manage their back pain through the following practices :

  • Adjusting posture (Reducing curvature, engaging abdominals, this also depends on stage of pregnancy)
  • Adapt lifting techniques (do not lift heavy weights, bend from the knees, keep the weight close to the body)
  • Doing simple exercises (strengthening muscles of arms, core, glutes and legs)
  • Rest and relaxation (meditation or mindfulness for calmness, pregnancy yoga can also help)
  • Apply heat or cold (whichever feels better)
  • Try supportive belts and pillows (they can support the pelvis and sacroiliac joints)
  • Optimise sleeping technique (sleep on side, with pillows between legs)
  • Massage (can help with relaxation of overworking muscles)

Recommended Therapies

In addition to self-management techniques, there are a number of therapies that can help women with pregnancy-related back pain. 

  • Physiotherapy (use of manual techniques as well as exercise)
  • Acupuncture (inserting fine needles into meridian points or tense muscles)
  • Exercise (specific exercises recommended by physiotherapist/osteopath/chiropractor)
  • Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS machine which may be purchased from some drug stores)
  • Mobility aids to help offload spine and pelvis


Back pain during pregnancy is a common issue that can have a significant impact on expecting mothers. However, with proper self-management techniques and recommended therapies, it is possible to manage and alleviate pain. Expecting mothers should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for their specific needs and circumstances.


Bishop A1, Holden MA2, Ogollah RO2, Foster NE2; EASE Back Study Team. (2016) Current management of pregnancy-related low back pain: a national cross-sectional survey of U.K. physiotherapists. Physiotherapy. 02(1):78-85. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Apr 19.

Alaeldin A. Darwich, Sudhir A. Diwan (2009) Management of back pain in pregnancy. Techniques in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management. 13(4):251-254.

EUROSPINE is a society of spine specialists of various disciplines with a large knowledge of spine pathologies. All well-known and accepted treatment modalities for spine pathologies are represented by the members of the society. However, the Society cannot accept any responsibility for the use of the information provided; the user and their health care professionals must retain responsibility for their health care management.

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