I recently attended a Chiropractic Teleconference by Dr. Karen Gardner Bagnell, a Chiropractic Physician with a family practice whose patients include adults, children, babies and pregnant women. During her lecture she went into great detail about the types of back pain that she encounters when working with pregnant women. Keep in mind however that these same back pain ailments affect other patients as well, not just pregnant women.
According to Dr. Bagnell the two most common neurological complaints she sees in her office that cause back pain are:
1. Meralgia Paresthetica (pain in the upper outer leg/thigh)
2. Sciatica (low back pain, leg pain, buttock pain and even foot pain)
Meralgia Paresthetica is when one has pain or numbness on the upper, outer leg and this is very different from having sciatica; which can be pain or numbness of the back, buttock, back of the leg, calf and foot. Therefore, it is important to be very specific and point to the exact area where the pain is located during the history and exam in order to get the proper diagnosis and care. When there is pain or numbness in the upper, outer leg region with Meralgia Parestheitca, this can indicate compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. This nerve passes beneath the inguinal ligament; which is found near the groin. The chiropractic method of treating this compressed nerve is different from treating a compressed sciatic nerve.
When it comes to Sciatica there are a few areas that need to be assessed to see where the sciatic nerve is being compressed. This could be due to a deficiency in motion of the vertebrae in the low back, it could also be due to a bulging disc, stenosis or one of the muscles in the buttock may be compressing the sciatic nerve. By evaluating these different areas, the chiropractor can make sure to work on the correct regions to relieve the sciatic pain. With pregnant women these two different nerves get compressed due to the posture changes, the ligaments getting looser, the belly growing, sleep habits changing or there may be an old injury that is flaring up.
Hopefully this information helps one understand the most common reasons for back pain, if indeed it is due to a compressed nerve. In my opinion, however, no one, including pregnant women should be told to just live with the pain. The proper Chiropractic alignment in conjunction with exercise, applying cold and or hot packs, rubbing on essential oils, arnica and other linaments as well as taking natural muscle relaxants and anti-iflammatory all offer a method of care that allows for using the least amount of medication possible to relieve pain, especially during pregnancy.
In health and happiness,
Dr. Liselotte Schuster