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The Disconnect between Post-partum Women and Low Back Pain

Recently we have seen a growing number of women presenting to our clinic with low back pain and who incidentally have had a baby within the last couple of years. Unfortunately many of these women have been told 1 of 2 things by their medical practitioners: it is an unfortunate side-effect of being post-partum and that it should go away in due time or go try some physical therapy and see if it helps. The problem is that the women is caught between her ObGyn saying it is a post-partum issue and her orthopedist diagnosing her with non-specific back pain, but not attributing it to the fact that she has just had a baby. Oftentimes, the problem goes undiagnosed and women who are even 10yrs post-partum can have dysfunction and pain directly related to the pregnancy numerous years ago.

As physical therapist’s, we have the responsibility of linking these events together and explaining to the women how pregnancy alters the stability and mechanics of her back, abdominal, and pelvic regions. We have the unique  ability to catch these women as they fall through the cracks of traditional medicine and significantly alter how the woman is able to go about her day caring for her newborn pain-free. A knowledgeable clinician will be able to create an individualized treatment program structured around the effects that a pregnancy and delivery can have on the woman.

At our clinic, the therapists are able to use ultrasound (similar to ones at the Ob’s office) to evaluate the muscle integrity of the abdomen and pelvic floor (areas most often affected by pregnancy.) It has become a useful tool to integrate into the treatment programs for these patients. The ultrasound allows the therapist and patient to visualize exactly how the muscles are being used and in what manner. Please check out this article for more information on the use of ultrasound imaging in the PT clinic: http://motionstability.com/assets/docs/articles/a_2010_09_ultrasound.

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