One of the most common problems with late term pregnancy is low back pain. It starts out as an insignificant discomfort, growing day by day until the pain is almost constant. No sitting position provides relief, and even sleeping becomes uncomfortable. For many women, their pain is resolved upon delivery and they go home with their new baby with no memory of their pain. For other new moms, however, they find dealing with the changes a new baby brings to their household more challenging because their back pain remains unresolved, sometimes even intensified. It’s hard to be happy about your newly expanded family when you are dealing with chronic pain.
The Mayo Clinic developed the RUSI, otherwise known as the Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging device. This a radiation free physical therapy tool that allows the therapist to see which muscles are working and which ones are not. With back pain affecting between 50 and 75% of all women, the RUSI can be an important tool in their recovery.
Pain is generally triggered by having weak core muscles. Pregnancy complicates the situation in several ways. First, because there is decreased muscle tone and it is very difficult to exercise the abdominal muscles during late pregnancy, a woman’s core becomes noticeably weaker and less toned. The growing baby further weakens and sometimes even tears muscle tissue because the mother’s body can’t keep up with how quickly her child is developing. After delivery, the mother might seek assistance from a physical therapist to help her to strength her core muscles and the RUSI safely guides a physical therapist to help the new mom rebuild her core, strengthening and healing previously torn muscle.
This approach is excellent in postpartum care as well as other people experiencing low back pain. The device helps develop core strength better than most other approaches because the therapist can see which muscles are being activated by a particular exercise and which ones are not. New exercises are then suggested. By exercising different abdominal muscles, a woman’s core strength improves. As with all situations surrounding pregnancy, be sure to check with your doctor before using the ultrasound approach to manage chronic postpartum back pain.