Pregnancy-Related Back Pain

Pregnant woman with back pain

About 50% of all pregnant women experience low back pain or pelvic pain with related disability. Back pain usually begins in the third month of pregnancy and peaks in the third trimester before it declines. Most women report a return to pre-pregnancy levels of low back pain within six months of delivery, but some experience chronic low back pain. More than one-third of pregnant women find back pain to be a severe problem compromising normal everyday life.

Effective Interventions

According to Dr. Ron Feise of the Institute of Evidence-Based Chiropractic, there are two effective non-pharmacological approaches to pregnancy-related low back pain: 1) therapeutic exercises, and 2) spinal manipulation.


Research has shown that an individualized therapeutic exercise program that includes stabilizing exercises and aerobic exercise is part of an effective treatment strategy for pregnant women with back or pelvic pain. An international research team conducted a scientific review and found that stabilizing exercises (strengthening exercises, pelvic tilt exercises) relieve back or pelvic pain. Aerobic exercise contributes to the overall treatment plan for patients with spinal pain, because it is associated with improvement in mood state, overall feeling of well being, and strengthening the supporting spinal muscles.

Spinal Manipulation

Researchers have found that spinal manipulation can provide safe and effective relief of back and pelvic pain in pregnant women. In a study of 170 patients receiving manipulation, 84% reported pain reduction and had a lower risk of developing back labor. In another study, 73% of pregnant women with pelvic pain reported either "excellent" or "good” improvement after spinal manipulation.

In a scientific review published in Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, researchers found that spinal manipulation is associated with improved outcomes in pregnancy-related low back pain. Another study, conducted by medical doctors and chiropractors and published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found important reductions in pain and disability with a chiropractic multimodal approach (manual therapy, stabilization exercises, and patient education; 4 to 6 treatment sessions of spinal manipulation).