Pregnancy, Lower Back Pain, and Tylenol

With mother’s day just passing recently, it got me thinking about all the mom’s-to-be that I see in the office. Now pregnancy and back pain go together like peanut butter and jelly, we can easily see the mental image of a pregnant woman walking around holding her lower back because the pain is killing her. So it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that 50% of pregnant women will suffer low back pain during their pregnancy?  It’s no surprise with the 25-35 pound suggested weight gain and the growing fetus inside. But only about 1 out of 3 women seek out treatment, with massage being number 1, yoga number 2, and chiropractic care with only a 6% utilization rate, that’s low!  As the baby develops and the abdomen grows, it increases the stress on the pelvis and lumbar spine. The bladder, urethra, and other structures can be stretched or under pressure, which can refer pain to the lower back and cause muscle spasms. In the last trimester, with the protruding abdomen and forward tipped pelvis, the increased curve of the lumbar spine places added stress on the discs, ligaments and joints of the lower back. This makes them more susceptible to injury or to generate pain.

But there are tremendous benefits to receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy

  • It is a drug free therapy, which is always a major concern during pregnancy
  • 84% of women who had chiropractic care during pregnancy had relief of their LBP
  • Because of the relief of low back pain, it significantly decreases the incidence of back labor. Back labor refers to the discomfort that laboring women feel in their low back. The risk of “Back Labor” is almost 3x greater if back pain was experienced during pregnancy.
  • For those women who had low back pain during pregnancy, those who received chiropractic care had 25% shorter labor times compared to those that did not, and that is for first time moms. For those who had given birth before, their labor times were 31% shorter than those that did not receive care.

So if you know someone that is pregnant and struggling with lower back pain, and would like to see them find relief, plus with the potential of cutting their labor time by 25%, a great, safe option is to receive chiropractic care.

 

Recently in the headlines was a report about acetaminophen, more commonly known as Tylenol. Current clinical guidelines recommend Tylenol as the first in line drug treatment for both low back pain and osteoarthritis (OA). A systematic review of research of 13 randomized controlled trials concluded that the widely used painkiller was ineffective against back pain and offers only minimal benefit to those people with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Low back pain and osteoarthritis are among the leading causes of disability in the world. Investigators found that in people with low back pain, acetaminophen was ineffective in either reducing disability or enhancing quality of life. In people with OA, acetaminophen provided only a small, not clinically important benefit in the reduction of pain and disability. Researchers concluded that it is important to reconsider treatment recommendations, as a first line drug choice, given the findings. Similar conclusions were also reached in a study published in another journal, The Lancet in July of 2014, that acetaminophen does not ease low back pain.

The authors of the study also found that acetaminophen increases the likelihood of having abnormal liver function tests, at 4x the rate. So the risk of having liver toxicity outweighs the benefit of taking this drug.
Ongoing and ever increasing concerns about the treatment of musculoskeletal pain with drugs, highlights the importance of non-drug related options. These form the cornerstone of self-management of spinal pain and OA. All patients with OA should receive advice about maintaining or increasing physical activity and optimizing weight (when appropriate). Exercise, manual therapy, and acupuncture, and are also recommended for those with BP. While the effectiveness of exercise for both spinal pain and OA is established, the findings of these studies emphasize that the time has come to shift our attention away from popping pills as the default option for managing chronic musculoskeletal pain. Non-pharmacologic treatments work, are safe, and have benefits that reach far beyond the musculo-skeletal system.

 

Listen to the podcast here!

Early Morning Stretching and Low Back Strength Needed? | 2 for Tuesday

Todd Wegerski

Todd Wegerski

In this podcast episode of “Two for Tuesday” on Back Talking, we tackle 2 topics that go in the frequently asked questions category. Many people have a morning exercise ritual that contains some stretches for their lower back. Before they even pop out of bed, they start stretching their hamstrings, their quads, and their lower back. Somewhere along the line they had heard that it is a good way to start their day. They pull one leg up to their chest, then they switch legs and pull that one up to their chest, then they pull both up and curl themselves into a ball. At night when we are asleep and not under the compressive effect of gravity, our disks absorb fluid from the neighboring vertebra. This fluid causes the disc to swell and actually become thicker. Well that increased “thickness” causes the disc to become stiffer, and for the ligaments that run from one vertebra to the next, to become more taut or tighter. So first thing in the morning, any bending or twisting places about 3x the stress on the discs and ligaments than compared to later in the day. After about 30 minutes of being upright, our discs have lost about 50% of their height. So the prudent thing first thing in the morning is to avoid any bending or twisting activities for the first 30 minutes!

The second topic on the episode deals with low back strength. It is a false misconception that people believe that they need to have a strong back to help prevent it from getting injured. Surprisingly it takes only about a 10% of our back muscles maximum contraction limit to provide spine stability! What is more important than back strength is back muscle endurance, it has been found to be more preventative for back injuries than back strength.

To hear this episode, click here!

 

2 For Tuesday| Back Belts and Chairs??

Todd Wegerski D.C hosts "2 for Tuesday"

Todd Wegerski D.C hosts “2 for Tuesday”

You know something, I’ve answered a lot of questions over the years. I wish I had a nickel for them all. But it has inspired me to start a Q+A show called “2 for Tuesday”.  In this show, I answer 2 questions and try to keep my answers short and sweet!

Many people ask about back belts. They see weightlifters on TV wearing them, and they think “why shouldn’t I be wearing one?” Well you may be surprised to find out what happens when you do.

The second question is, how should they set themselves up at work to avoid “hurting”themselves. The answer may surprise you, it’s something you’ve been sitting on for years!

Take a listen to the first episode of 2 For Tuesday!