Pregnancy causes many changes in a woman’s body. Although patients are aware that back pain is caused by the baby’s growth inside the womb, most of them only think that this occurs during the second and third trimesters of the pregnancy. However, upper back pain is actually one of the first signs of pregnancy.
So why is upper back pain a sign of early pregnancy? Women typically experience upper back pain during the first and third trimesters of their pregnancy because of hormonal changes among other kinds of bodily changes, stress, and bad posture. It’s a common symptom but if their upper back pain starts bothering them, they should consult a doctor immediately to find ways to relieve back pain safely.
Back pain can manifest in different ways – it can be a minor inconvenience at times, but it can also be severe enough to prevent people from accomplishing daily tasks. Adding back pain to common symptoms of pregnancy like breast tenderness, fatigue, headache, and nausea, it becomes easy to understand why pregnant women prefer to stay in and rest in their beds for the rest of the day.
Pregnancy is a blessing for many people, but it’s not something to be taken lightly. Pregnant women experience different kinds of pain as their bodies go through different changes – some women even suffer from upper back pain during the early stages of their pregnancy. But the key to safe and effective upper back pain relief is understanding why they have it in the first place.
About 50% to 80% of expecting mothers experience different kinds of back pain during their entire pregnancy. Most of them experience it as an ache in their lower back, but other patients also reported pain in their upper back, shoulder, and neck.
Although it’s less common than lower back pain, the upper back pain experienced by expecting mothers can be a dull but intense pain that prevents them from functioning normally. It can also worsen as the day progresses – which is why women who stand on their feet all day while pregnant experience worse upper back pain.
Upper back pain as an early sign of pregnancy manifests in different ways – some patients feel it as a dull ache while others report a sharp pain in their upper back. It can also be felt on one or both sides of the body.
If you’re in doubt about the upper back pain you’re experiencing during early pregnancy, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider immediately about the symptom. They often recommend different ways to treat it or rule out any bigger concern for the patient.
Pregnant women experience pains, aches, and general discomfort at any point during their pregnancy, but upper back pain is more common during the first and third trimesters because of hormonal surges and other factors.
Upper back pain may last until a few months after giving birth, but there are several ways for pregnant women to manage their pain and discomfort until then. Stretching exercises, prenatal yoga, and physical therapy are often recommended because they help alleviate upper back pain while strengthening the patient’s body in preparation for childbirth.
Knowing why and how upper back pain occurs during pregnancy is essential because it allows patients to find out the best way to deal with their symptoms. If you’re also suffering from upper back pain in the early stages of your pregnancy, here are some possible reasons why:
After an egg becomes fertilized in a woman’s uterus, her body’s biochemical composition changes to prepare for childbirth. These changes include a spike in some of the hormones to loosen ligaments and joints in the pelvic area.
One of the hormones that increase first is the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (or HCG) which tells the rest of the body that it will start growing another human soon. It’s also responsible for signaling the ovaries to stop producing mature egg cells every month. Progesterone is another hormone that surges during pregnancy, which causes the uterine muscles to relax.
Along with progesterone, relaxin is another important hormone that prepares the body for childbirth. According to experts, this hormone is also the main reason why patients experience upper back pain during their early pregnancy stage.
As the patient becomes pregnant, the muscles in their bodies relax and the ligaments become softer in preparation for gestation and labor. However, these changes put a strain on the joints of the pelvic area and the lower back, causing back pain. The back pain from the lower area can also radiate to the upper back because of strain on the spine.
Stress is a common cause of back pain, regardless if a patient is pregnant or not. It increases muscle tightness and pain, especially in different areas that feel weak – so if the hormonal changes already affect the joints and ligaments, then stress and anxiety about different things can worsen the patient’s upper back pain.
Many obstetrician-gynecologists recommend that pregnant women avoid any kind of stressful situation during their pregnancy because they often experience worse stress-induced back aches.
Posture also affects upper back pain for women who are expecting, which is why they’re often advised to avoid slouching. In the early stages of pregnancy, increased breast girth adds weight to the chest – which alters the patient’s posture and increases the muscular strain along the upper back.
As the pregnancy progresses, the changes in the uterus and weight gain may also cause upper back strains and spasms. There’s a shift in the center of gravity which results in an inward spine curvature. The muscle spasms and strains caused by these changes lead to upper back pain in pregnant women.
Although it’s a major source of discomfort for pregnant women, upper back pain in the early stages of pregnancy isn’t usually a cause of concern. But if the pain is persistent or severe enough to affect the patient’s quality of life, then they should see a doctor immediately to discuss pain relief options that are safe for pregnant women.
Consulting with a doctor also allows patients to rule out any other serious condition that might be causing their upper back pain, such as a lung infection or a liver disease. Aside from causing upper back pain, these conditions also affect pregnancy so it’s crucial to detect and treat them as soon as possible.
Upper back pain during early pregnancy is quite common, but patients can still experience relief at home by following certain practices like:
Upper back pain is one of the many early signs of pregnancy that can be difficult to bear for some women. While there are different ways to experience upper back pain relief, it’s always crucial to proceed with caution to avoid any complications later in the pregnancy.
At Gramercy Pain Center, we have experts who specialize in pain treatments and can help pregnant women alleviate their upper back pain safely. Call us today to book an appointment and learn more about our upper back pain treatments.