Pregnancy and Back Pain – Tips from an Expert

pregnancy-back-pain

The waddling gait, the hands pressed into the small of her back, mama-to-be is uncomfortable.

An aching back is such a common part of pregnancy that the waddling and back clutching is a stereotype of late-term pregnancy. But backaches can start much earlier in pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnant women will experience backaches during pregnancy. For many, it persists after the birth of the baby.

Tim Evens PT of Agility Spine & Sports Physical Therapy gave us the lowdown on why back pain is an issue during pregnancy and what to do to prevent and to treat back pain.

Why do so many pregnant women experience backaches?

As the baby grows and mama’s belly grows, the increased weight, shift in center of balance, and the increased mobility of some of the joints of the pelvis (hypermobility of the sacroiliac joint) all contribute to extra strain on the lower back. This added strain and resulting distorted movements with joints locked at the end range of motion can make daily life painful.

What can you do to prevent backaches during pregnancy?

A strong core and upright posture before and during pregnancy can help prevent backaches.

  • Squats help strengthen legs, abs and pelvic floor, and require balance and can be performed during pregnancy.
  • Balancing exercises, such as through yoga, can provide core strengthening
  • Avoid over stretching
  • Limit how much sitting you do each day
  • Exercise 30 minutes every day

When to contact a physical therapist?

Evens suggests that if back or pelvic pain is limiting daily function do not wait to seek help. Often it is an issue that can be easily addressed. The first port of call is your primary care physician who can rule out other issues. If this is a second or third pregnancy and this is a familiar pain you may wish to check in with your physical therapist’s office.

How can a physical therapist help you if you experience backaches?

A physical therapist can help you return to fully functional movement, and address tissue healing and trauma of back and pelvis pain. As many of these issues can be addressed simply, Evens encourages women to seek help if the pain is limiting their daily function. Don’t let it linger for months when it is easy to fix and can help reduce stress during a time that can be fraught with stress anyway.

At your appointment the physical therapist will evaluate your flexibility, strength, balance and posture. The therapist may manipulate or move your body to address immediate tissue issues, and almost always will provide you with at-home daily exercises to increase strength, mobility and flexibility.

How to perform a squat

Evens provided these tips for performing an effective squat:

  1. Hold your lower lumbar spine in a neutral position. As you squat the low spine should not flex (tail should not tuck under)
  2. Make sure your knees do not move in front of your toes. This ensures that the majority of motion is coming from the hips

Remember good squats require good hip strength and flexibility.

 

This post was first shared on May 1, 2014

Help celebrate Physical Therapy month throughout October

EmilyBurdettePhysical therapists work hard to help patients improve their range of motion, strength and flexibility so they can lead their most active lives and obtain better outcomes.

National Physical Therapy month is held each October and Tucson Medical Center would like to take this time to recognize the impact of our therapists. A big thank you is in order for the 14 physical therapists and six physical therapy assistants in adult acute therapies, as well as the 11 therapists in pediatric therapies.

It’s also an opportunity to highlight the achievement of those therapists that have worked towards their advanced certifications.

According to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists, certification was established to:

  • recognize physical therapists with advanced clinical knowledge, experience, and skills in a special area of practice
  • assist consumers and health care community in identifying physical therapists who have advanced skills
  • address a specific area of patient need

Certification takes a great deal of work: Therapists must have extensive background in their specialty area including direct clinical hours and passing a board exam.  In order to maintain the certification, therapists must retake the exam and participate in professional development activities including service to the profession, teaching, and participation in research studies.

We caught up with Emily Burdette, who recently earned her certification, to learn more about the effort.

Why did you pursue this certification?

I wanted to pursue the designation of board-certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy in order to demonstrate my commitment to the profession of pediatric physical therapy as well as my patients. I wanted to set myself apart as a clinician who is considered to have advanced clinical skills in pediatric physical therapy.

I pursued this certification as a commitment to further the profession of pediatric physical therapy. In order to become re-certified as a pediatric certified specialist, I must be active in the profession of pediatric physical therapy by attending continuing education courses, teaching physical therapy students during their clinical internships, participating in research projects, and becoming a mentor to other pediatric physical therapists.

Lastly, I wanted to pursue this certification to continue my commitment for life-long learning as a pediatric physical therapist. It is a personal commitment of mine as well as the other therapists working at Tucson Medical Center Pediatric Therapies to stay as up-to-date as possible on all research regarding the treatment of children. We all pride ourselves on the emphasis Tucson Medical Center Pediatric Therapies has on evidence-based practice.

How rigorous was the process? 

I studied every day for nine months for about 2-3 hours per day. I was busy reviewing various diagnoses that are seen by pediatric physical therapists in different areas of practice. I also reviewed research papers from the Pediatric Physical Therapy Journal and Physical Therapy Journal and took continuing education courses for diagnoses that I am not as familiar with. The actual test for certification was 6 hours long and 200 questions.

Was it worth it? 

It was worth the sacrifice so that I could provide the best evidence-based care to my patients. It helped me to review treatment of pediatric diagnoses I am familiar with as well as learn about the treatment of diagnoses I am not as familiar with. I believe that all of the studying and reviewing of research articles has made me a better, more knowledgeable pediatric physical therapist!​

Learn more about the advances in hip and knee treatment with Dr. Dalal

Join Dr. Ali H. Dalal from the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute for a free interactive discussion highlighting current advancements in treating joint pain – from non-surgical treatment options to the latest Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted technology.

El DoradoFaster recovery and increased mobility are more accessible than ever before!

If you or a loved one is suffering from joint aches and pains and thinking about seeing a specialist – this discussion is for you.

The presentation and discussion will be held at 1400 N. Wilmot (El Dorado plaza) on April 12 at 5:30 p.m.

Attendance is free, but you must register by calling (520) 324-1960 or you can register online at TMC for Seniors. See you there!

 

Dalal3Dr. Dalal is a fellowship-trained hip and knee replacement surgeon at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology.  He received his M.D. from the University of California San Diego and completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Illinois Chicago.  He completed a fellowship in hip and knee replacement at the Florida Orthopaedic Institute.

 

 

TMC for Children Supports Research Study to Gauge Success of More Frequent Pediatric Therapy

TMC for Children is supporting a study to help determine whether children diagnosed with cerebral palsy show more progress with a more intense and frequent burst of therapy delivered at young ages when the brain is rapidly developing.

Cerebral palsy, which is a disorder in which damage to the central nervous system results in motor dysfunction, is one of the most common pediatric developmental disorders in the U.S.

Under the study, funded by the TMC Foundation, 20 children with mild to moderately severe levels of spastic cerebral palsy between the ages of 18 to 36 months are being seen by TMC for Children’s pediatric occupational and physical therapists for five days a week for 12 weeks. The children would typically receive just one therapeutic session a week under most insurance plans.

Dr. Burris Duncan, a professor of public health and pediatrics who is leading the study, became intrigued by the question of intensity and frequency when he went to China more than a decade ago to participate in some maternal-child health clinics in rural China. While there, he found that the hospital in which he worked advised parents of very young children with cerebral palsy to put their child in the hospital for three months. The children received daily physical and occupational therapies, as well as acupuncture, deep massage and herb baths.

That isn’t practical to replicate here, he said, since parents and insurance companies would likely balk at three months of inpatient treatment. Read more at TMC for Children.


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