Pregnancy-Related Low Back Pain

More than 50% of pregnant women experience low back and pelvic pain.

It has been shown to be the number one cause for sick leave among the pregnant population. There are many causes of low back pain and physical therapy is an effective intervention. Your therapist can help determine the underlying cause of your back pain and treat accordingly to decrease your pain and improve your overall function. All treatments are modified according to the stage of pregnancy to maximize effectiveness and minimize risk.

Causes of pregnancy-related low back pain:

  • Increase in Relaxin hormone causes ligaments to become loose which causes instability of all the joints especially in the pelvic area.
  • Weight gain changes the woman's center of gravity forcing her to alter her posture.
  • The combination of instability and altered posture places greater strain on the lumbosacral region. The lumbar spine muscles and the sacro-iliac joints are the primary sources of pain.
  • Women are at greater risk if they smoke, are obese, have a history of low back pain, joint hypermobility ("loose joints"), and who have physically demanding jobs.


Your therapist will determine the best treatment based on evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your pain.

  • Massage - a powerful tool to help immediately decrease your pain, it also helps decrease muscle spasms and increase local circulation to the area.
  • Muscle Energy Techniques - a gentle and yet very effective treatment in which the therapist will resist certain movements to activate specific muscles that will return the pelvis or lumbar spine into alignment.
  • Joint Mobilizations - gentle pressure applied to a joint to return that bone to proper alignment. This can be done to any joint and may be performed on the lumbar spine or pelvis to relieve back pain.
  • Postural Training/Body Mechanics Training (ergonomics) - it is important to know proper posture and how to sit, stand and lift properly to avoid extra strain on your back.
  • Lumbosacral Supports - these are effective tools to give your back extra support especially if your work requires prolonged standing or sitting. Your therapist can recommend one that is right for you.
  • Pelvic Floor Muscle Training - Kegel exercises are mentioned in most pregnancy books you read. Your therapist can make sure you are doing them correctly.
  • Therapeutic Exercises - research shows that performing strengthening exercises that target the transverse abdominis (Kegel exercises), abdominals, back and hip muscles result in overall less back pain throughout pregnancy. Your therapist can give you a safe, specific exercise program for you.

Working together as a team, Genesis Physical Therapy can not only treat your low back pain, we can educate you and give you the tools to prevent it from coming back even after the baby is born.