Hip and back pain during pregnancy can be caused by various factors: the weight of the pregnant belly, a previous back injury that is resurfacing, altered or poor posture, instability of the joints caused by ligaments that are relaxing, or an increased lumbar curve. Most of the time women are sent to the physical therapist to learn strengthening exercises or given a back brace and left to their misery. Back pain cannot be ignored however, because it is important for the mom-to-be to keep her mobility as far into the pregnancy as possible. Staying active not only keeps the mom and baby healthy but it helps the mom maintain the stamina she will need for labor.
How Does Acupuncture Treat Back Pain in Pregnancy?
Once the acupuncturist has ascertained the cause of the back pain, the acupuncture treatment can begin. It is important to note here that the exact cause of the pain does not dictate how successful the treatment will be. Pain that is caused by herniated discs responds just as well to acupuncture as back pain caused by muscle spasms. This is because the acupuncture works by bringing more circulation to the area and helping to reduce inflammation, reducing swelling and relaxing the muscles so that spasms cease. Acupuncture also affects the nervous system and helps to reduce the pain response being elicited from the troubled area on the hip or back.
What is Getting Acupuncture Like When You’re Pregnant?
When treating pregnant women, they are asked to lie down on their side and their body is well-supported with pillows to ensure maximum comfort during the treatment. The area of pain will be palpated and then the needles will be placed locally near the pain and also distally along the acupuncture meridian. It is common to use only a few needles, usually 6 or less. The woman is then left to take a deeply relaxing nap for 20-30 minutes while the acupuncture needles are retained.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
In pregnancy, the hip or back pain is usually at the acute phase which means that the pain responds more quickly to treatments that are given closer together. The most benefit will result from treatments two or three times during the first week. By this time, if the woman is careful not to overdo her activity level, her pain should be greatly diminished. The next week treatments should be given one or two times. She can then return for maintenance treatments every other week or so in order to stay pain-free as the weight increases.