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Chiropractic Care While Pregnant: Is It Safe?
When it comes to pregnancy, aches and pains are just par for the course with the extra weight we carry. According to a recent survey, around half of all pregnant women will experience some level of back pain before they give birth. Of course, chiropractic care is useful with back pain normally but is it still safe when pregnant? Let’s take a look!
If you were unaware, chiropractic care revolves around the adjustment of misaligned joints and the maintenance of the spinal column. Rather than using surgery or drugs, chiropractors use a natural solution almost like therapy and massaging to reduce the pressure on the spinal nerves; this then encourages health all around the body.
Each day, over one million adjustments are given around the world and we seem to be big advocates of the practice in the US. Even during pregnancy, experts believe chiropractic treatment is safe although there are some circumstances where the practice isn't advised. Before anything, speak with your doctor and obtain their advice. Typically, they’ll tell you to avoid the treatment if you’ve experienced an ectopic pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, toxemia (anything above ‘moderate’), or placenta abruption/placenta previa.
These days, chiropractors are trained to work with pregnant women and Dr. Popkin can therefore provide assistance. Elsewhere, you’ll also find chiropractors who specialize in prenatal care so this may be important for you. To reduce the weight placed on the growing belly, the tables we use can be adjusted. For the techniques themselves, none will put any unnecessary pressure on the abdomen so the program will be personalized for your pregnancy. If you’re looking to ease discomfort and tension, you’ll also be shown effective stretches.
So, we know it’s safe but will chiropractic care actually help during pregnancy? Often, the physical and hormonal changes we experience during this time will directly impact comfort and even our posture. Of course, your baby will grow heavier and this completely shifts the dynamic of your body. As the center of gravity changes, your posture will do the same.
Unfortunately, these changes tend to cause misalignment in the joints and spine. As well as posture changes, some women experience changes in the pelvis (where the body is getting ready for the big day) and a curved back where the abdomen protrudes.
With regular appointments with a professional chiropractor, these issues can be addressed. According to a recent study, three-quarters of all patients suggested a decrease in pain and discomfort during pregnancy. What’s more, chiropractic treatment can actually be incredibly useful for your baby because adjustments can help with balance and overall alignment with the spine and pelvis.
When your pelvis is moved from the correct position, your baby will have less space in which they can develop. In medical terms, this is called ‘intrauterine constraint’ and it is one of the main causes of birth defects. If it doesn’t cause defects, it poses a risk during delivery because your baby can’t quite get into the right position to be born; naturally, the best position will be rear-facing with the head first.
In the past, the solution has been an invasive birth so chiropractic care could be critical if you want a natural birth and your baby to have the room to be born safely. Although evidence is slightly less extensive in this, research also suggests a quicker labor and delivery process after seeing a chiropractor.
On the whole, chiropractic care also offers general benefits while pregnant including controlled nausea, healthier pregnancy, and a relief of pain and discomfort in the hips, back, neck, and joints!
As a natural and non-invasive form of care, chiropractic care centers around the idea of spinal manipulation, adjustment, and therapy. When experiencing lower back pain, neck pain, and other ailments, there is now a wealth of literature supporting chiropractic care. Originally, the theory was developed by Daniel David Palmer just before the turn of the 20th century. After much research, he knew that overall health could be improved by restoring spinal structural integrity and by reducing the stress on sensitive neurological tissue.
After experiencing a fall, over-exertion, or tension, one or multiple vertebrae can move from their natural position. For the nerves and soft tissues, this causes pressure and irritation; manipulative therapy aims to restore spinal mobility and alleviate the stress on nerves and tissues. When a loss of function is caused by the out-of-position vertebrae, this is called ‘subluxation’ and the definition is actually different to what you might find elsewhere in the medical world.
After visiting a chiropractic facility, their first step will be to identify the areas that need manipulation and a physical examination will be a start. Although x-rays can be beneficial, traditional physicians and chiropractors still disagree as to what a subluxation looks like on an x-ray.
When chiropractors manipulate the vertebrae in an attempt to return them to the natural position, this is called an ‘adjustment’. Completed with either a device or just the hands, the movements are controlled but sometimes with a little force to move a joint further than its passive range of motion; this can lead to a popping sound. Essentially, this is the release of gas and known as ‘cavitation’. As the chiropractor works away, the ultimate aim will be to improve range of motion and remove discomfort.
In addition to adjustments, other techniques are valuable for specialists including traction, massage, and stretching. For best results, the chiropractor will suggest a combination of treatments and manipulation is often paired with electrical stimulation, heat, ice, and changes to the patient’s lifestyle. If the chiropractor suspects a tumor, if the patient doesn’t respond to treatment, or if the patient is experiencing numbness or radiating arm/leg pain, they’re likely to advise a visit to a traditional physician.
Is it safe? Since it’s a natural solution, side effects aren't serious but different treatments will bring certain side effects. Typically, tiredness and headaches can stem from adjustments for a short while. On the whole, side effects are linked to the treated area and can include an aching feeling or slight discomfort. With cervical spine manipulations, strokes have been reported in the past but the likelihood of this occurring is extremely rare.
Alone, short-term relief will be enjoyed with chiropractic adjustments; long-term relief is then expected when paired with activity modification, exercise, changes in lifestyle, and improved body mechanics. According to the Agency for Health Care Policy, the first four weeks should involve spinal manipulation and light exercise. Above all else, they note the importance of regular daily activities (i.e. bed rest can be detrimental to health in these circumstances).
All things considered, chiropractic care is both safe and effective; when managing low back pain especially, spinal manipulations will aid recovery when combined with cardio and strengthening exercises. If pain continues or the chiropractor spots an issue, the patient will be referred to a medical physician for further examination. If a misalignment is the issue, low back pain can be aided with the help of a chiropractor.