Can pregnancy cause a herniated disc?

A herniated disc, which can be uncomfortable under any circumstance, can be even more painful during pregnancy. That’s because the weight of a growing baby can substantially increase the amount of pressure that is exerted on the spine during movement, which in turn can aggravate herniated disc symptoms.

With that said, pregnancy itself is very rarely the direct cause of a herniated disc. It is far more common for a woman to experience general back pain stemming from the many changes going on in her body, particularly in her lumbar spine and pelvic areas during the third trimester.

Why do herniated disc symptoms sometimes worsen during pregnancy?

In addition to normal prenatal weight gain, other factors (that are unrelated to the pregnancy itself) can stress the spine and contribute to the development or worsening of a herniated disc during pregnancy. These include:

  • Certain underlying conditions — such as low bone density and osteoporosis
  • A pre-existing spinal injury — such as a vertebral fracture
  • Recent spinal trauma — such as a direct blow to the lower back

Mild-to-moderate herniated disc pain during pregnancy is usually not a problem with regard to the health and safety of a woman or her baby. To improve a woman’s comfort and help prevent further injuries, an obstetrician/gynecologist can recommend an appropriate treatment strategy, which may include bed rest, gentle stretches and exercises, hot and/or cold therapy, prenatal massage, acupuncture or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Post-pregnancy treatment for persistent herniated disc pain

If you continue to experience severe herniated disc pain after giving birth, you may want to consider your surgical treatment options. To do so, contact Laser Spine Institute, the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Our team can provide a free MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^

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