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Dr. Lipoff: Pregnancy: How to Stop Your Aches and Pains
By Dr. Jay Lipoff
“Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped.” – Sam Levenson
More and more people are finding they can get relief from pains in their body like: headaches; whiplash; back pain; and sports injuries, by seeing a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), but what about pregnancy pain? Yes!
Pregnancy is no different than an elite athlete training and stressing their skeletal system, as well as their muscles, tendons and ligaments. After conception a lot of changes occur over the next nine months, which can cause pain for the expecting mother. Many women have discovered the benefits of chiropractic for not only these aches and pains but also for an easier pregnancy.
(What is Chiropractic?) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCQLNAsuPV8&NR=1&feature=endscreen
One of the common problems associated with pregnancy is Sciatica. When the slightest pressure disrupts the sciatic nerve traveling down both legs it can cause: an increase or decrease in information relayed to your body; causing shooting pain; an area of numbness or muscle weakness.
In an effort to reduce the pressure on the nerves, a person will lean away from the side of pain, known as antalgia, when the cause of pain originates in the back.
Piriformis Syndrome is another possible cause of Sciatica. This muscle is located in the buttock roughly behind your back pocket. If this muscle becomes enlarged, tight or inflamed, it can irritate the nerve.
From my experience and understanding of the human body’s biomechanics, I feel that indirect or direct pressure on nerves from inside the womb, where the baby is sprawled out like Spiderman climbing a wall, is not the only reason this occurs.
As women reach later trimesters they gain weight. Sometimes it is a little and sometimes a lot. As the inner thigh becomes thicker women lose their ability for their normal walking pattern and swing of their legs, because one thigh touches the other thigh. They are forced to externally rotate their legs and swing them outward when walking to make an adjustment for this change. This is affectionately referred to as waddling.
This motion can contract the piriformis muscle and irritate it or make it bigger. When this happens there is a good chance the sciatic nerve can be pinched. Manipulation and stretching are really helpful for this.
Another common pain for women is headaches. It could be from changes in your body, hormones, everyday chores becoming more difficult, the fact that “there’s a baby coming!” stress and even your disturbed sleep pattern.
(Sleep positions for pregnancy) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8-z6FXYn7E
Chiropractors are great at helping people of all ages with headaches because many headaches stem from imbalances in the neck bones and the muscles. All chiropractors specialize in treating the neck and the rest of your body, some may just use a different technique to do so. There are also variations of adjusting maneuvers for a pregnant patient to reduce stress on the belly region.
(Adjusting a pregnant patient, short video) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=9pfZkHpFH_g&NR=1
Among the multitudes of headache studies that showed chiropractic manipulation helped headache sufferers, a 2009 study in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice specifically found headaches in the pregnant patient also responded well to chiropractic.
Low back pain can be caused by the unborn child, but as pregnancy results in the stomach increasing in size there is also more stress to the low back? A 2012 study in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies found chiropractic very helpful for low back pain related to pregnancy, as did The Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health.
(Adjusting a pregnant patient, long video) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa68Gxala4s
The only bonus of pregnancy is because change happens over 9 months your body has time to strengthen in accordance with the growth of your child. However, when there is a lot of weight up front in the belly area there is about a 10 fold increase in pressure in the low back. In other words, every pound up front is equal to 10 pounds of additional pressure.
So if you are a guy and have a 20 pound stomach, that is roughly 200 pounds of harmful pressure, per square inch of your disc, in the low back. Ouch! Women should always discuss an exercise program with their OBGYN to ensure it is safe.
When exercise programs don’t work to stop back pain, many OBGYNs refer these patients to Chiropractic Doctors because for years spinal manipulation has show tremendous effectiveness and cost savings in the care of low back pain, as well as other common complaints.
The Sacroiliac joint or SI joint is also another common source of LBP for women. These are the two bumps you can feel just below your belt line and about 2 fingers from the midline on both sides. The Journal of Family Practice Research reported 91% of test subjects reported relief from SI pain after receiving manipulation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is another “great” side-effect of pregnancy in some cases. CTS involves less space in the wrist for nerves and blood vessels to pass. Women sometimes experience swollen ankles and swollen wrists due to an increase of fluids. Symptoms will usually diminish after childbirth, although chiropractic and physical therapy treatment can help decrease symptoms temporarily.
Lately I have had a few patients come in to see if adjusting could help coax the baby to reposition so they were head down and ready for launch. Usually I try tickling the Mom.
A-ha! Just checking to see if you were paying attention.
I don’t use electric stimulation for fear the baby will be doing the Macarena in there so I don’t want to start any bad dance trends early. It may also cause harm to the baby so to err on the side of caution it should never be used while pregnant.
Typically I use some heat to relax the muscles first. Next I will use a massager to further relax tight muscles in the back. We also have a hydrotherapy massage table, which is like laying in a Jacuzzi without getting wet or putting on your bikini.
Then I can start some light stretching and vary my adjusting techniques depending on how far along the mother is and what seems to work best for her. I never fall in love with one technique because everyone is different. Most often the baby will start to reposition after a few treatments.
The really cool thing about chiropractic is that it can help your Central Nervous System, the brain and spinal cord, communicate with the rest of your body so it functions properly. Think of it as the fuse box providing electrical information so the oven turns on and the lights in your room work.
(Dr. Phil and Chiropractic) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrHTMu_perA
I had a patient that expressed concerns over not being able to conceive a second child because menstruation never started again after her first child was born five months earlier. She had seen many specialists and nothing had helped.
After examining her, it was clear that the lower back was not moving properly in the regions where nerves supplying information to the reproductive system were located. I adjusted her and the next day her cycle returned. My sister now has two kids.
Another patient had stopped having her menstrual cycle for 10 years. She had been in a motorcycle accident years back and had also taken birth control shots that probably threw her body’s natural functions off for years.
On a Saturday I examined her and adjusted her. On Monday she called me from DC and professed her cycle was back. It now came back every three weeks, making up for lost time, sorry, but she eventually became the mother of two children as well.
I wish I could say chiropractors always experience miracles with their patients but it is never that easy. As a profession we have only small studies or cases studies proving chiropractic may help with menstrual cramping, ear infections, colic, bed wetting and more. BUT, if the medical route hasn’t helped, and I always encourage co-treatment with medical doctors, why not try a chiropractic doctor.
One of my favorite cases since 1993 was a 16 year old boy named Chris who had been wetting his bed for 10 years. His parents had tried everything and had resorted to a nasal spray with a side-effect of constricting the kidneys. Imagine being a teenager and never being able to have a sleep over or having to change the sheets daily.
I worked on Chris on a Friday and he had his first dry night in 10 years. I saw him on Saturday and had the same result. At his next appointment on Monday he told me Sunday night wasn’t good. I started to work on him aggressively everyday because his condition existed for so long and it worked.
As his schedule was reduced he would sometimes revert back to a wet night but we would get him back on track and after six months and being seen weekly at that point he was done. Doesn’t work with every child, especially if there is any domestic stress at the house, but there is always a chance that the miracle, known as your body, may have a few tricks up its sleeve to keep you well. It sometimes just needs a little help. Don’t we all?
Thank you to everyone who has emailed questions. If you have any topics you would like me to cover, any type of personal health concerns or questions, feel free to email me at DrJay@BackAtYourBest.com. I will answer them in private or in this section in a week or two.
Dr. Jay M. Lipoff is the owner of Back At Your Best Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, LLC, which is located in the Wildewood Shopping Center. Dr. Lipoff is also the author of “Back At Your Best; Balancing the Demands of Life With the Needs of Your Body.” It is available in book and Kindle format at Amazon, www.BAYBBook.com and at his office.
He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1990, a Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) from New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) in 1994 and he became a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) in 2005.
Dr. Lipoff is an Executive Board Member, International Chiropractic Association Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science; has a radio segment: Back At Your Best in 5 Minutes or Less, Co-Founder, Drug Free Training USA; Member, NY Strength-promoting the importance of physical conditioning; Board Member of Public Relations Committee, Maryland Chiropractic Association; has spoke on nationally broadcasted radio interviews, has articles in print and referenced in over 100 print papers, magazine and on websites, President, Wildewood Business Network-promoting better business relations and community outreach.
For more information, go to www.BackAtYourBest.com or find us on facebook or call 301-863-BEST (2378).
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