Saturday, February 27, 2010

Your achin' Back

Backs are the bane of a hominid's existence. They hurt when we over- use them and they hurt when we abuse them. Chiropractors make a living off of them and so do massage therapists and orthopedists and as a therapeutic touch practitioner, I have worked on more than my share of backs. Muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications are commonly prescribed and they are not considered safe in pregnancy.

Backs hurt in early pregnancy for much the same reason that they hurt when we are premenstrual and menstruating. That little bit of pelvic congestion can affect the way a lower back feels. Tylenol is safe in pregnancy; you can use two tablets of 325 mgs every six to eight hours as needed. Warm baths may help. A heating pad, set on the medium setting can give a lot of relief.

As the pregnancy progresses, wear flat shoes. High heels may exacerbate an already compromised center of gravity due to a widening girth, so flat shoes ( with an arch ) are better for your back. A maternity belt or what I call a belly- binder will help support your abdomen and thus take stress off back muscles that are doing too much of the work. Good body mechanics is taught in physical education class, remember? When you lift ( no more than twenty pounds, please ) use your leg muscles, not your back muscles.

Pregnancy massage is good. Exercise is good. Take a prenatal exercise class and then you can be assured that the instructor is watching out for back strain. Tylenol continues to be safe throughout pregnancy. If two regular strength Tylenol don't work, try Extra -strength Tylenol. And that trusty heating pad ( set on the medium setting ) is just fine throughout the pregnancy.

Sciatica is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve that starts in the buttock and radiates down the leg. It is usually on one side and not both concurrently. Sitting on a bag of frozen vegetables ( like peas, because they are loose and will conform to your shape ) will reduce the inflammation and so will the trusty Tylenol. Some people like to alternate the frozen vegetables ( like peas ) with the trusty heating pad set to the medium setting. Figure out what you like best. It can't hurt any more than your achin' back.

The pain is temporary but naggingly persistent. When the pregnancy is over, you are usually free from the back and sciatic pain. Then there are other pains...... but that's for another blog.

The best defense is always being in good shape. Exercise is good for everyone for a variety of well- publicised reasons, not the least of which are strengthening all the muscles in your body, especially all those big over used muscles in your back.

Remember good body mechanics and posture. Remember to use pillows to cushion and support your legs and hips, especially in bed. Move around, don't sit at the desk or lie on the sofa in one position too long. Get up and find a bottle of water and that way you will be moving your body and hydrating too. Mothers need to multi-task: that's just a pain in the neck.