As awareness continues to build on the benefits of seeing a physical therapist for low back pain, it should not be forgotten that physical therapists can help with numerous other conditions. One of those conditions being a very natural phenomenon, pregnancy. Even with pregnancy rates on a decline, the latest study shows “98.7 per 1,000 women aged 15-44” are becoming pregnant(1). That remains to be a large number of women that may experience the following symptoms during or after their pregnancy(2):
• Low back pain
• Pelvic girdle pain
• Weight gain
• Gestational diabetes
• Urinary incontinence (uncontrolled bladder)
• Leg Edema (swelling)
• Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)
• Morning sickness
• .... The list goes on
The purpose of physical therapy intervention is to prevent or reduce the occurrence of these symptoms. A systematic review performed by Kampen et al. found physical therapy intervention to be effective in the treatment and prevention of pregnancy symptoms(2). The results indicated that the skills of a physical therapist can accurately address the following(2):
- low back/ pelvic girdle pain
- weight gain beyond recommendations
- urinary incontinence
These symptoms can be addressed with targeted exercises, such as Kegels for urinary incontinence. The guidance of a physical therapist should be sought to ensure proper performance of these particular activities and receive adequate education about safe movements.
Also, don’t forget that nutritional intake is crucial during pregnancy, for both mother and child. Seek the help of a registered dietitian for nutritional meal planning.
- Patrick Berner, SPT
1. Fox M. U.S. Pregnancy rate hits record low, data shows. NBC NEWS. December 11, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/womens-health/u-s-pregnancy-rate-hits-record-low-data-shows-n478381. Accessed February 4, 2016.
2. Van Kampen M, Devoogdt N, De Groef A, Gielen A, Geraerts I. The efficacy of physiotherapy for the prevention and treatment of prenatal symptoms: a systematic review. International Urogynecology Journal. 2015;(11):1575.