Managing Herniated Discs During Pregnancy

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Pregnancy Spine Pain

As your body changes throughout the course of your pregnancy, different areas are forced to handle new stresses. For about half of expecting mothers, this increased stress leads to back pain and discomfort, but for a small percentage of this group, their back pain progresses to a more serious condition known as a herniated disc. When this happens, the soft nucleus of a spinal disc breaks through the fibrous outer disc layer, oftentimes leading to irritation of nearby spinal nerves.

As you can probably imagine, irritation or compression of key spinal nerves can lead to a host of symptoms, including pain, numbness and muscle weakness, which are not symptoms that you’ll want to manage during your pregnancy. If a disc herniation does occur while you’re pregnant, swift and intentional steps should be taken to address the issue and keep it from progressing. Below, we share some tips on how Dr. Sinicropi can help you manage a disc issue while you’re pregnant.

Treating Herniated Discs While Pregnant

It’s important to remember that the majority of women will not experience a herniated disc as a result of their pregnancy. Unless there are other underlying factors at play, like a family history, obesity, nutrient deficiency or chronic posture issues, it is unlikely that your back pain will progress to a herniated disc. Your back may certainly feel more uncomfortable as your child develops, you gain weight and your center of gravity is thrown off, but these bodily changes are unlikely to cause a strong spinal disc to fully herniate. In fact, you’re more likely to herniate a disc during childbirth than during your pregnancy due to the stress on your pelvis and lower back during delivery, and still the relative risk remains very low.

With that said, even though it is rare for a woman to experience a fully herniated disc during the course of her pregnancy, it’s easy to see how the presence of a developing child can make effective treatment a little harder to come by. The continued pressure of the developing baby can also serve to worsen symptoms, so it’s imperative that you seek professional treatment. Dr. Sinicropi has helped women manage and alleviate herniated disc symptoms throughout their pregnancy, and he can do the same for you.

While every patient and pregnancy is different, treatment methods are oftentimes similar. Despite the trauma to the disc, many herniated discs can heal without surgical intervention. Your doctor will likely recommend a combination of a few different treatments to help provide the right type of environment for healing to take place. Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Pregnancy-approved physical therapy
  • Pregnancy-approved no/low impact exercise
  • Dietary improvements to provide body with more essential nutrients
  • Hot/Cold therapy
  • Pregnancy-approved massage therapy
  • Posture improvement
  • TENS unit

When working to overcome a herniated disc during pregnancy, odds are you won’t just be working with one provider. In most cases, treatment involves regular communication between your spine specialist, your OBGYN and your physical therapist to ensure everyone is on the same page and you are only pursuing treatments that are appropriate given your condition and the stage of your pregnancy. This ensures that no additional risk is put on you or your unborn child.

Most patients see symptom improvement after just a few days, but total relief may take weeks or months. We’re confident that we can make the condition more manageable so that discomfort is minimized as you progress through your pregnancy.

For more information on dealing with herniated discs during or after your pregnancy, or for help with a different spinal issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.

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