In honor of a Peoria patient who has appreciated her prenatal chiropractic care, and who is anticipating the birth of her first baby:
A study called "The treatment experience of patients with low back pain during pregnancy and their chiropractors: a qualitative study" was published earlier this month in the journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. This study was a survey-based investigation into whether chiropractic is safe and effective for pregnant women.
Although the numbers of women and chiropractors contacted for this pilot study were relatively low, I was struck by how similar their experiences are to my own. Women who seek chiropractic care in my office when experiencing back pain during pregnancy often find relief. And even more importantly, each woman feels more prepared for the birth process after her chiropractic experience. The gentle chiropractic techniques that I use in the office, including the popular Webster Technique and Activator Methods, assure each woman that she and her baby will be safe during each treatment.
The authors of the study concluded that chiropractic appears to be safe and effective for women during uncomplicated pregnancies, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Excerpts from the open access article are included below, with reference footnotes omitted:
Low back pain (LBP) during pregnancy is reported by approximately 50% to 80% of pregnant women. The structural, postural, or hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, or any combination thereof, may lead to LBP during pregnancy. Treatment options include a range of therapies, such as exercise programs, massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic. Chiropractic care may include spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), mobilizations and soft tissue therapy, as well as exercise prescription. Previous studies and systematic reviews of the literature have indicated the relative safety and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for LBP during pregnancy.
To date, no study has explored the treatment experience of the pregnant population seeking care for their back pain, whether that treatment is from a chiropractor or any other health care provider, nor has any study assessed the experience of chiropractors providing treatment for their pregnant patients with LBP. [snip]
All of the interviewed patients reported that they found chiropractic treatment to be effective and that it helped relieve them of their LBP and associated symptoms. Patients reported that chiropractic treatment had improved their daily living activities and their mobility, while it decreased their overall pain and discomfort:
PT01: “I can walk longer periods of time. So that's excellent. I can go standing for four to five hours. Because prior to that I'd be standing 40 minutes to do the dishes and I'd be in agony. Even the basic things, like picking things up off the floor, you'd get stuck in that position, I haven't experienced that yet [in this pregnancy]. Or just sitting for long periods of time, because I do work an office job from home, so I do sit long periods of time. I know for most people [they] have to get up and stretch for a couple minutes, even in doing that I‟ve been doing okay.”
PT02: “The pain is gone. but I do feel like I have more energy and I can do more activities. The pain doesn't prevent me anymore.”
PT05: “It really allowed me to function. I could barely walk before or stand, the pain was intense, but after I went to the chiropractor. I found I could function day to day, I could walk from the bus stop to work, I could do these things, so that was pretty significant. It's just helping me function. It's just teaching me how to pick up my daughter so I don't hurt myself. To still function, to still play with my daughter and be able to go to the grocery store and do all these things without really hurting myself. As well as it allows me to sleep at night.” [snip]
Pregnant patients present differently in terms of their LBP symptoms, its onset, location and duration. The chiropractor’s approach depended on the patient’s presentation, and most of them had a patient-centered approach: (DC03) “Some will respond differently than others and obviously not every pregnant patient with back pain has exactly the same issues as well. So, we obviously tailor those situations to patients.” [snip]
All of the patients directly stated in their interviews that they believed chiropractic treatment was safe and they had not experienced any adverse events after any treatment, which has been reported in previous studies: (PT07) “I wouldn't say I've ever had any side effects.” Patients also described their comfort levels changing with particular treatments throughout the pregnancy, while their chiropractors generally modified the treatments to make their patients feel safe and comfortable:
PT11: “I‟m always very aware of what he's doing to me and where the position of the baby is. I can't say I'm 100% comfortable, I know it works, and I've read quite a number of articles about it. I haven't experienced any problems, but it's always in the back of my mind [safety of my baby], especially in the very beginning, not so much right now, because I'm really big now and it has to be done differently. Now the reservations are there but they're very small, and I think that's the case with anything in pregnancy. You just want to make sure you're doing the right thing for your body and the baby.”
Here is a glowing testimonial from a mother who was recently told that her baby was in a transverse position in her womb. Transverse means that the baby was lying horizontally instead of in the normal head-down posture in preparation for birth. Babies assume this head-down position as early as 28 weeks.
This mother (whose name is withheld due to patient privacy... she calls herself Third Time Mom) has a strong desire to deliver this baby normally and naturally and to avoid a Caesarian section. After her midwife informed her that the baby was not in optimal alignment, she sought care at Johnson Family Chiropractic, seeking the Webster Technique. She had already been a chiropractic patient at our clinic, and had heard that sometimes mothers and babies who are in breech positions respond well to the Webster Technique.
I cautioned her that the Webster Technique should not be considered a breech-turning technique, since it is not an obstetric procedure. Instead, the purpose of the Webster Technique is to realign the sacrum in order to relax ligaments attached to the uterine wall, which may be tight, taut, or torsioned. In some cases the tension of the uterine wall prevents the baby from moving freely, which is why the Webster Technique seems to have such a high success rate with breech or transverse babies. The Webster Technique addresses specific bones, muscles, and ligaments, but the chiropractor performing the technique does not turn the baby or even touch the baby.
The basic idea behind Webster's Technique is the same idea behind chiropractic: if the body's ability to function is restored, then the body will function normally.
After our discussion, Third Time Mom agreed to a course of chiropractic care with the Webster's Technique. Click here to read her review of the Webster Technique and Dr. Johnson.
Pregnant women often find themselves with back pain, abdominal pain, headaches, joint pain, and other discomforts caused by weight gain, swelling, and postural changes. These pains are often a necessary sacrifice in order to allow the baby optimal conditions to grow. But living with pain, especially pain that reduces or prevents sleep, is not much fun.
Many women turn to chiropractors in order to help them with the temporary pain of pregnancy. Chiropractors can also help prepare mother and child for the birth process.
Even more women turn to simple over-the-counter medications to deal with the pain. Aspirin. Motrin. Midol. Celebrex. Toradol. Advil. These drugs are called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). I have spoken with several patients who say they use NSAIDs "like candy" when they are in pain. But are these drugs safe?
It has been well documented that chiropractic can help with many types of back pain during pregancy. The Webster Technique has had a long record of helping reduce dystocia (difficult birth). And there is far more to be learned about the excellent results that chiropractic can have with pregnant mothers and their babies.
I recently came across an excellent article by a chiropractor in Texas, who explains just how nerve interference in the neck can have negative effects on the pregnant woman, and how chiropractic adjustments may help to produce a smoother pregnancy and delivery.
How Chiropractic Can Help With Your Pregnancy and Birth
by Brandon Harshe, DC
Morning sickness. Vomiting. Nausea. Back pain. Pelvic pain. Shortness of breath. Hormones gone wild. High blood pressure. Swollen ankles. These symptoms are seen as normal during pregnancy, something you better get used to for the next 38-42 weeks. You wanted a baby, now deal with it. Right?
Wrong. Sure these examples are common among pregnant women, but the intensity or even the presence of these symptoms will greatly diminish if under Chiropractic care.
As we established in previous posts, the nervous system controls all in your body. Under the direction of your body’s Innate Intelligence, the nervous system will adapt to the changes brought on by a growing new life inside of you. This new life you carry has its own Innate Intelligence that will do whatever it must to preserve the health and well being of itself. This will come at your expense, causing a number of deficiencies that your Innate Intelligence will have no choice but to adapt to.
The presence of a vertebral subluxation will interfere with the nervous system’s ability to communicate back and forth with the body. The subluxation will result in three things:
1.) Body Imbalance – a subluxation at your atlas will tilt your head to one side. Your brain has a reflex called the righting reflex which keeps your eyes level with the horizon. This will cause your lower cervical spine to bend the opposite way of your head tilt. To compensate, your thoracic spine will bend the opposite way, then the opposite way in the lumbar spine, resulting in one side of your pelvis being drawn up and causing one leg to appear shorter than the other, as well as an uneven distribution of weight putting undue stress on the joints. An unevenly aligned pelvis during pregnancy can be incredibly painful, as well as problematic for the baby trying to get into a proper birthing position.
2.) Nerve Tension or Pressure – Because of these compensations traveling down your spine, the muscles on one or both sides of your spine will become very tight, and inflammatory effects will take place and escalate in places of spinal misalignment. These changes will add stress to the nerves exiting your spinal column at some level, be it the nerve root or further along the distribution of the nerve. The nerves exiting your spine all lead to various parts of your body, including muscles, organs, glands, and blood vessels. Left alone and, over time, this nerve stress will lead to degeneration in these various body systems.
3.) Brain Stem Tension or Pressure – A subluxation of your atlas (C1) vertebra will not only narrow the spinal canal in which the spinal cord travels down, but this narrowed space will result in an increase of pressure within this spinal canal. This added pressure will cause undue stress to the brain stem located just above the atlas.
Read more at Birth Without Fear.
Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
All images used are under Creative Commons license.
Although every effort has been made to provide an accurate description of our chiropractic care and its benefits, the information given on this website and blog is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, medical advice for any condition.
If you have any questions regarding your condition, you should seek the help of Dr. Johnson in person, so that he may properly assess your condition.
This blog is provided by Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria, S.C., proudly located in Peoria, IL.