When female patients come into my office complaining of lower back pain, I often hear that their pain began after the birth of a child. Many times, they received an epidural during labor and believe that this is what caused their lower back pain. Is it possible for an epidural to cause lower back pain? If the epidural didn’t cause their back pain, then what did?
Was It The Epidural?
Before we discuss if an epidural is responsible for your lower back pain, first I want to explain how an epidural works. Epidurals are the most common form of pain relief used during labor in the United States. During an epidural, an anesthesiologist inserts a needle into the lower back. A catheter, a small tube, is then inserted into the epidural space, the area surrounding your spinal cord. Medication is then introduced into the epidural space using this tube. This medication is used to help numb pain in the lower part of the body.
So, can an epidural cause lower back pain? Studies have shown that there is no correlation between having an epidural and lower back pain. These studies show that mothers that did not have an epidural are just as likely to have lower back pain after delivery as mothers that had a epidural.
However, in rare cases, an epidural can cause nerve damage. In this case, there could be lower back pain associated with the epidural, but I believe that in the vast majority of pregnancies, there is another cause for lower back pain after delivery.
If Not the Epidural, Where Does the Pain Come From?
During pregnancy, a woman’s pelvis goes through extreme changes. First, the pelvis and associated ligaments expand to make room for the baby and prepare the woman’s body for delivery. At this time, the ligaments of the pelvis are under a large amount of stress, which can lead to lower back pain.
After delivery, the pelvic ligaments begin to return to their normal length as the pelvis contracts. Many times, when the pelvis begins to shrink back to its normal size, the pelvic bones and sacrum, the bone at the base of your spine, become misaligned. This can cause pressure on the sacroiliac joints, one of the most common causes of lower back pain. For this reason, I believe many mothers experience lower back pain post-delivery, whether they had an epidural, or not.
Chiropractic is extremely successful at correcting misaligned sacroiliac joints, and relieving the resulting lower back pain. If you are suffering from back pain after giving birth to your child, give a chiropractor a call. There’s a good chance that they can help you, whether you had an epidural or not.