Almost every new mom can relate to back pain during pregnancy as your baby grows, but what if the pain doesn’t go away after your little one arrives?
Many women suffer from back pain postpartum due, in part, to ligament laxity. Ligament laxity occurs when your ligaments are too loose to hold your joints in the proper position. This join instability causes your muscles to compensate, usually by tightening, which can cause pain. It’s normal for the ligaments in your lower back and pelvic region to loosen during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby due to the release of a hormone called relaxin. As the name may suggest, relaxin causes the muscles and ligaments in your pelvic region to relax. However, it can cause some muscles and ligaments to relax a little too much, causing nerve and joint pain.
One of the joints where this pain is most common is the sacroiliac joints. Roughly 15% to 25% of patients reporting lower back pain are experiencing sacroiliac joint pain. The sacroiliac joints are where your lower spine and pelvis connect. Sacroiliac joint disfunction can result in pain in the lower back, pelvis and pain running down your legs. This may mimic other conditions, such as a herniated disc or hip problem. Many women even describe the pain as a hip that’s “out of place,’’ but what they are really experiencing is a one-sided lower back pain in the region of the sacroiliac joint. To further their confusion, it’s common that sacroiliac joint dysfunction is not picked up on an MRI or CT scan. For these reasons, many women will see multiple doctors for their chronic back pain before finding a cause or treatment option that works for them.
Sacroiliac joint pain can have a significant impact on your postpartum recovery and your ability to enjoy normal life, but luckily there are several nonsurgical treatment options to help you get back on your feet.
Common Treatment Options:
- Realignment Techniques
Realigning the lower back and pelvic region consists of manual adjustment, massage and therapeutic exercises that can help correct the positioning of your muscles and joints.
For some postpartum mothers, the best time to receive a readjustment may be within six weeks after giving birth but can be done at any time. Relaxin, the hormone that loosens the body during pregnancy, is still present in the body for up to six weeks postpartum. This relaxed state may make your body more flexible and easier to adjust.
- Platelet Rich Plasma Injections
Platelet-rich plasma injections are a non-surgical, in-office procedure that uses your own blood and cells instead of medication. When medical professionals inject your body’s own platelet-rich plasma into a painful area, they can intensify your natural healing process and regeneration. The procedure is performed in office using ultrasound guidance.
- Tenex Procedure
Tenex Is a minimally invasive, ultrasound guided procedure. During the procedure your doctor will use ultrasound imaging to locate the area causing your pain, then a small incision is made so a small ultrasonic device can be placed under the skin. This tool emits ultrasonic frequency waves that can break down and remove damaged tissue while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. This process not only removes damaged tissue and calcified bodies, which are calcium deposits that build up and disrupt your body’s normal processes, but it also stimulates blood flow, which promotes healing.
Overall, there are enough challenges that come with new motherhood. Pain does not have to be one of them. Ochsner's Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation treats a wide range of problems using conservative methods, prescription medication and assistive devices to help you enjoy your life and your new addition.