Pain in Back After Cesarean Delivery: Causes and Dealing Ways

Low back pain is one of the common symptoms post C-section and occurs due to spinal or epidural anesthesia. Nearly one third babies out of the 4 million babies delivered every year are born through cesarean section. Majority of these surgeries need pain medicine that is given into the spinal fluid of the mother. A study published in journal Anesthesia and Critical Care, states that the risk of low back pain approaches around 40%.

What Causes the Back Pain After C Section?

There are two causes of back pain following C section. First is trauma to muscle, skin, nerves or ligaments of back because of spinal needle insertion. Second cause is referred to as post-dural puncture headache, which is characterized by neck pain and headache due to gradual leakage of cerebrospinal fluid that worsens on sitting or standing and resolves on lying flat.

  • Onset: Pain due to insertion of spinal needle occurs as early as the effect of anesthesia starts wearing off-generally about 2-6 hours, according to the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. Pain related to post-dural puncture headache occurs sometimes later- around 12 hours to 5 days post C-section.
  • Duration: Both kinds of pain generally resolve within few days, though, in certain cases, the pain may not get better and persist for a couple of weeks. Patients can get a treatment referred to as ‘blood patch’ for severe pain related to post-dural puncture headache. In this treatment the female’s own blood is injected into her dural space. Immediate relief is provided by this treatment. According to estimates, around 1 in 4,000 to 1 in 200,000 females may develop long lasting back pain after C section as a result of nerve injury that is caused by epidural or spinal anesthesia.
  • Location: Pain in back that is related to spinal needle insertion is located on the low back, around first lumbar vertebrae. Post dural puncture headache related back pain radiates down from the head to the neck.
  • Emergency Warning Signs: Complications including infections and bleeding develop in around 1 in 220,000 patients. Warning signs and symptoms of complications are fever, discharge or redness at the site of insertion; severe pain; pain, which progresses to tingling, numbness, weakness of muscle or loss of bladder or bowel control. Females who develop warning signs and symptoms after C section must contact their OBS/GYN or visit an emergency department directly.

How to Deal with Back Pain after C Section

In case you develop severe back pain following C-section, it is recommended to visit your physician and get a detailed check up so as to rule out any underlying disorder. In some cases, your physician may not be able to find a cause of your pain. In such scenarios you can try certain home remedies. Let’s discuss some of these home remedies.

1. Alternate Hot and Cold Remedies

To relieve back pain from C section, you may apply alternate hot and cold remedies to your body. All you require is to lie on an ice pack or heating pad for 20-30 minutes alternatively regularly.

2. Choose the Correct Mattress

Choose a mattress that has even surface and that is not very soft to your spine. Specifically designed mattresses including latex foam, memory foam, inner spring, air etc. are available these days in the market. However, you should take advice from a chiropractor or a doctor before investing in a specifically designed mattress.

3. Exercise for Low Back Pain

One of the best exercises to relieve low back pain following C section is Pilates. It strengthens the muscles of abdomen which are put to excessive strain post and during C-section. This is accomplished by stretching joints and muscles of back. These exercises done during Pilates are very light on the back and can relieve your pain in back. They are perfect while you are recovering from C-section. You should wait till you get okay from your physician before doing any strenuous exercises of the abdominal muscles as they may result in internal injuries or tearing of stitches if done earlier. Yoga is also a good exercise to relieve back pain after C-section in association with pelvic tilts.

4. Take a Hot Bath

You can take a hot bath to relieve low back pain following C-section. Dissolve some Epsom salt in hot water and soak in it. It can relieve all the soreness in your back muscles.

5. Massage

Get yourself a good massage. Though it wouldn’t treat the underlying cause of low back pain, but it helps in relaxing and temporarily soothing tense shoulders, pulled muscles and easing low back pain. If you can’t pay for a massage at a spa or a massage parlor, you can ask your friend or partner to give you a massage.

6. Pelvic Tilts

A Pelvic tilt is done by lying flat on your back, knees bent and feet placed flat on the floor. In a subtle movement, tilt the tailbone toward the belly button, keeping the hips on floor. While you are at top of tilt, tighten the muscles of butt, release. Repeat this process eight to ten times. You should wait for at least eight to ten weeks after C-section before doing this exercise.

In case you are not getting relief from home remedies, you should visit an acupuncturist or chiropractor and see if you get relief in your low back pain. You may also take Advil or Tylenol; however, you should take them in low dose in case you are breastfeeding.

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