What Causes Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy?

Do you experience back pain during pregnancy? You are not alone. It is estimated that 50 to 80 percent of pregnant women tolerate this very common symptom. Most pregnant women experience pain in their lower back, but some report pain in their upper back, neck, or shoulders.

Although upper back pain during pregnancy is less common than lower back pain, it can and does occur. Most expectant mothers describe it as My back is killing me or describing it as a dull but powerful pain, often large enough to hinder one’s ability to function. It also gets worse as the day goes on, especially for moms who stand on their feet all day.

So what is behind this disturbing sign and, more important, how can you relieve it? Here’s what you need to know about back pain during pregnancy.

What Is Back Pain?

It hurts in any part of the back. Sometimes you may feel it on your lower back or legs. It can be due to injury or due to age and can occur at any time in life for a variety of reasons. Sometimes people lift heavy weights that cause their back muscles to rupture which can lead to serious problems. 

Pain can also be the result of a specific condition a person suffers from spinal inflammation, chest tumors, osteoporosis, or aortic disturbances. Our vertebrae help us move. The back muscles, spinal cord, and disc support our body and any of these problems can cause back pain.

When Does Upper Back Pain Start In Pregnancy?

Pregnancy discomforts can happen at any time, but upper back pain often affects those in their first and third trimesters. You can thank for the increase in stress and the increase in hormones in early pregnancy.

What Causes Upper Back Pain During Pregnancy?

There are many factors that can cause upper back pain during pregnancy, including depression and hormonal changes. The hormone relaxin, for example, prepares the human body for pregnancy and childbirth — but it can also cause some unpleasant side effects, such as body aches and pains. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also cause loose lines and muscle tone, which makes them work harder — and thus cause pain.

What Are The Causes Behind This Condition?

Upper back pain during pregnancy is most common in the third trimester. However, it can happen at any time during pregnancy. It is caused by a number of changes in the body through pregnancy. Remember that you may experience back pain due to dorsalgia.

  • Center Of Gravity

As we said before your body expands during pregnancy, you are forced to stretch your neck muscles and pull your shoulders longer to maintain your balance. Effort creates stress in your spine leading to upper back pain. As your pregnancy progresses, your body’s center of gravity changes, moving forward. Since your back muscles can be used for this change, it responds to more physical pain.

  • Diabetes And Back Pain

Diabetes and back pain have been associated with each other. However, the relationship between symptoms of diabetes progression and back pain has not been studied. The purpose of this study was to link clinical and laboratory measures of diabetes mellitus to the onset of back pain to provide an understanding of the relationship between these conditions.

The findings showed that symptoms of diabetes progression were associated with the presence of back pain, suggesting that uncontrolled diabetes may contribute to the development of chronic back pain.

Some Risk Factors Due To This:

Having a high BMI during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of various health problems for a baby, including:

  • Growth problems.

  • Childhood asthma.

  • Congenital disorders.

  • Childhood obesity.

  • Cognitive problems and developmental delay.

However, other factors also might play a role in these outcomes.

  • Hormones

Pregnancy hormones also have an effect on back pain treatment. Most hormones are released in the third trimester. These hormones prepare the mother’s body for childbirth. They loosen lines and muscles. As a result, the pelvis and back are unstable. This causes the muscles to work harder and can sometimes cause muscle spasms.

  • Dehydration

To those people who ask, can dehydration cause back pain? Yes, it surely can. Here see how. Between each bone or vertebra, in your spine sits a small disc filled with gelatinous material. When the body does not have enough water, these discs lose water and can not hold your body weight. 

This can lead to the collapse of the discs, putting pressure on the delicate arteries in your spinal column. These discs are primarily intended to separate the joint bones of the spine, providing flexibility and mobility for shock absorption. The shape of these disks is similar to that of a jelly donut, with a strong outer ring of fiber and a soft, gel-like center.

But for someone who does not get enough water, the discs do not have the ability to return water to the water. Without this fluid, the pressure on your spine is now inside the outer ring of the disc, which is not intended to hold the weight. When these discs collapse, even slightly, they depress nerves that send pain signals throughout the body.

How To Maintain A Neutral Posture?

You can maintain a neutral position by doing the following.

  • Standing To

Keep your chest up and shoulders back but relaxed. Keep your knees slightly bent. Maintain a good foundation for support. Keep a wide posture and distribute the weight evenly between the legs. If you have to stand for a long time, try to rest one foot for a while, and then for the other. For example, see if you can find a ladder that you can use to change your feet.

  • Sitting

Make sure you sit in a chair with good lumbar support. Even better, buy a lumbar support pillow. Supporting the lower back allows the upper muscles to relax. Keep your feet flat on the floor, at shoulder width apart. The hips should stay at a 90-degree angle. Make sure you sit in a chair high enough to do this. If it is too high, try placing the feet on a chair or ottoman.

  • Sleeping

Pregnant women should sleep sideways between the second and third trimesters. A strategy to maintain a neutral spine during sleep is to use pillows. Place a pillow between the knees. You can also put one under the abdomen. Some pillowcases are below the neck and cervical spine.

  • Avoid Heavy Lifting

Avoid lifting weights and use the appropriate body weight when lifting. Keep things close to the body. This reduces the force placed on the back. Bend from the knees and lean on the waist. Never bend the back when lifting heavy objects. Never twist when lifting. Wait until the object is high and close to your body before rotating or turning.

  • Exercise

Exercising during your pregnancy keeps your back muscles strong. It helps them to support your growing child. It prevents back pain and relieves the pain you already have. Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program. This is especially true if you are pregnant.

  • Stretch

Daily stretching can prevent or relieve the above pain. These two tests are useful because they reduce back pain:

1. Doorway Pectoral Stretching

Stand on the door frame and place your arms on the door frame at the top of the shoulder elbow and bend at 90 degrees. Put one foot forward and swing forward slightly until you feel a moderate tip in front of the chest to the front of the shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times several times a day.

2. Scapular Retraction

After you have finished stretching the above, keep your arms at your side and relax. Gently press your shoulder blades together. Imagine trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold this position for 5 seconds. It is best to do this several times a day.

Other Things You Can Do:

  • Jump in the pool; Or a lake. Or go for a walk. Exercise can be one of the best ways to relieve back pain during pregnancy because it strengthens the muscles and increases flexibility, so your spinal muscles will be ready and willing to take on any future changes. Walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bike are all good, options that have little impact if you have a baby on the ride.

  • Kick off your heels; Improper shoes – whether they are supportive or too high – change the alignment of your pelvis, which can cause back pain even if you are not pregnant. Instead, choose comfortable flats or tennis shoes with adequate cushioning and arch support – at least until the baby arrives.

  • Perfect your pillow placement; The best place to sleep while pregnant is next to you, with a pillow between your knees. This takes the pressure off your lower back. But you can try a different pillow placement to see what works best for you – such as the one between your arms if you have severe back pain.

If you experience the above pains during pregnancy you can use ice, heat, or massage to relieve symptoms. Do not leave it open for long periods of time (more than 15 minutes at a time). Also, talk to your healthcare provider Premier Pain Centers about physical therapy.

 A physical therapist Dr. Rao K. Ali Pain Management Specialist may evaluate you to determine the underlying causes of your upper extremity pain and design an individual plan to address these issues and make it easier for you to return to work without pain.

If the above back pain does not go away with the above, consult your pain specialist doctor in fort worth. Although upper back pain during pregnancy is common, it is not something to be ignored. 

Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment. 


  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.