Pregnancy is such a special time, it is truly amazing what the female human body can do! However, it can definitely come with its share of challenges, back pain being one of them. You may start to notice back discomfort as early as the first trimester, when your hormones start to relax your muscles and ligaments. Often the culprit of back pain in pregnancy is the SI Joint.
WHAT IS THE SI JOINT?
The Sacro-Iliac Joint (SI Joint) is the place where the wing shaped top of your pelvis (ilium) attaches to the lower part of your spine (sacrum). You have two SI joints on either side of your pelvis. The joints are held together by a strong & complex set of ligaments. These SI joints can be found at the two dimples of the lower back, just above your buttocks.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE SI JOINT?
The role of the SI joint is to allow force to be transmitted effectively through the body. The joints work together to absorb impact from the legs and protect the spine from this impact during activities such as walking, running and jumping.
WHY DOES PREGNANCY SOMETIMES EFFECT SI JOINT DYSFUNCTION?
When you are pregnant your body naturally releases hormones that cause the ligaments and joints to loosen and stretch. This is your body’s way of preparing for birth, as it will need to stretch to accommodate baby. Due to the growing uterus, some of the core muscles around the pelvis will stretch and weaken. Most women will see some weight gain in pregnancy as well, which can cause increased pressure on the joints. Add this to an altered gait which accommodates your new centre of balance, and you have a lot of extra stress on these joints that can lead to inflammation in the joints.
SYMPTOMS OF SI JOINT DYSFUNCTION
Signs that your pain may be stemming from your SI Joint could be that you are experiencing a deep pain in the back of the pelvis, in the SI joint areas. Your pain may radiate down through your groin and thighs. SI Joint pain generally is worse when you are standing, walking, climbing stairs, resting on one leg, getting in and out of a low chair, rolling over and twisting in bed, and lifting. Often SI Joint pain is improved when you are lying down.
HOW TO MANAGE SI JOINT PAIN
Step one is checking in with your physician, he or she will assess and diagnose your condition. If the pain is stemming from your SI joint, often the treatment includes seeing a Physiotherapist. You will most likely be given exercises and stretches that focus on core stability of the trunk and pelvis. You may benefit from a pelvic belt, which can be found at many maternity stores. It is important that you don’t wear your belt constantly, as it can cause the muscles to weaken and stop functioning all together. A Registered Massage Therapist who is certified in prenatal massage may also be able to help you manage your discomfort in pregnancy. Chiropractors who are trained in prenatal care can also be of great value with SI joint pain. You may want to consider investing in a pregnancy pillow to help you get comfortable in bed as well.
Pregnancy can be a beautiful time in life, but it can come with its ups and downs too. If you are feeling stressed about your pregnancy, or would like additional support and education from a knowledgeable, trained professional please reach out to a Mama Coach today. We are here to help you with science-based programming that is tailored to your needs.