An Interview with Dr. Billy Rodriguez
“Doctor Billy, “What is causing all this back pain and lower tummy pain in my pregnancy?” This is a common question I’m frequently asked by my expecting patients. The truth is - at least 50 percent of women will experience some form of back pain or discomfort. Pregnant women are prone to backaches, lower abdominal pain, and back pain for a few reasons: pregnancy weight gain, change in posture, and change in hormones.
While the first two factors are commonly understood, the change in hormones is the one explanation that is most neglected. Yet, unlocking the key to the changes in hormones could result in less pregnancy pains.
As I currently write this article my wife and I are expecting our first baby girl. As a result, my wife and I have seen firsthand how managing the changes in her pregnancy are undamental. Helping us understand how to deal with these changes was our midwife Anne.
After carefully weighing the pros and cons of all the data on childbirth and speaking with other couples, we decided the most prudent choice for us was to have a natural childbirth with a midwife. Having interviewed several midwives, my wife and I felt extremely comfortable having Anne as our midwife.
Speaking with Anne over the last several months professionally, she made me realize what impact the change of hormones has on her clients – and it is much greater than I thought. So we have decided to do an interview to help answer some important questions about hormones, ligaments, pain, and relief.
Anne: Dr. Rodriguez, you mentioned that the most neglected cause of backaches and pains are due to changes in hormones. Could you explain that to our readers?
Dr. Rodriguez: As any woman would probably agree, during pregnancy, hormone changes are at an all-time high. During these changes she might experience mood swings, constipation, food cravings, the need for extra sleep, etc. to say the least. However, there is one female hormone that affects the musculoskeletal system directly. That hormone is relaxin - a female hormone that is produced in the ovaries during pregnancy. Though its role is still not fully understood, relaxin is responsible for the expansion of the pelvis to allow room for the fetus to grow and eventually expel the baby. It affects the joints and ligaments in a woman’s pelvis during pregnancy.
Anne: Then we can assume that relaxin affects ALL the joints and ligaments of the body, not just the pelvis and cervix correct?
Dr. Rodriguez: That’s correct. Relaxin, like any other hormone, is not exclusive to just the pelvis. It affects all joints and ligaments of the entire body simultaneously. This is why some women experience more flexibility in different parts of the body, like the neck for instance.
Anne: So when relaxin is released in the body it affects all joints and ligaments to allow proper expansion and flexibility. It would be a misfortune if relaxin was not released!
Dr. Rodriguez: To say the least. Imagine for a moment a piece of string versus a rubber band. What’s the difference?
Anne: The rubber band can stretch and the string cannot.
Dr. Rodriguez: Right! Imagine your ligaments as strings. Picture if they were thin, taught, and had no flexibility whatsoever. They are designed to connect bone-to-bone and bone to muscle, and keep the joint in place. Now, imagine if the pelvis and uterus began to expand without the ligaments being able to stretch fully. Not good. All the ligaments would probably tear, joints would dislocate, and recovery would be interesting to say the least.
Anne: Now that we know the purpose of relaxin, how can it lead to abdominal or pubic pain?
Dr. Rodriguez: During pregnancy the hormonal changes will cause all the major ligaments of the uterus to stretch and expand causing discomfort and sometimes pain along the course of the ligament. These ligaments have been known to stretch up to twenty times their normal size during pregnancy. While it is a normal process, this excessive stretch can lead to many pains. The soreness associated with the stretching of these ligaments can be considered as a “sprain” of the ligament.
However, here’s where it gets interesting. If you recall, ligaments connect bone-to-bone. As the pelvis expands and the joints and ligaments soften, if the joint is not moving freely and normally (what we call subluxation or fixation of the joint) the ligament or ligaments will be even more taught and tender. This is usually the case with the round ligament where women usually feel sharp pain in the lower abdomen region, hips, or groin.
Anne: What ligaments are we talking about?
Dr. Rodriguez: While there are many ligaments involved with the proper positioning and support of the uterus and pelvis, research and experience indicates the round ligaments are usually the culprit. A trained D.C. would be able to assess the issue more precisely.
Anne: What can a pregnant woman do for this? How can she make sure her ligaments remain loose and flexible to allow the pelvis to expand normally?
Dr. Rodriguez: There are a few things. The single most important thing the mother-to-be can do is have regular chiropractic checkups throughout and after her pregnancy. The data shows and supports that women under chiropractic care can reduce their labor by fifty percent. How does chiropractic help the expectant mother? The Doctor of Chiropractic is trained to manage any subluxation, tiny spinal fixations which prevent proper function, that are present in the pelvis and/or spine so that the pelvis can move freely with the natural growth of the pregnancy.
If the chiropractor detects that the round ligaments are taught and restricted, with the use of the Webster Technique, proper function and motion can be restored.
Anne: What about supplementation for ligament health?
Dr. Rodriguez: Absolutely. Standard Process carries two wonderful products that can aid in the health and recovery of the any ligament injury whether acute or chronic, Ligaplex I and Ligaplex II (usually recommended for ligament issues in pregnant women, this product contains manganese, calcium and other nutrients). The Doctor of Chiropractic will be able to determine which of the two should be taken. Ligaplex has been a key supplement and extremely helpful as a part of my wife’s regular nutrition plan.
Anne: Other than being painful, how does ligament constriction affect the mother and baby?
Dr. Rodriguez: Ligament constriction will affect the mother and child in a couple of ways. First, the constriction will limit and in certain instances prevent the proper function and biomechanics of the pelvis, making it more difficult for the pelvic inlet to open and move freely, thus allowing proper fetal movement. In the infant, constraint can cause a stressful environment and can lead to an inability of the infant to descend and position correctly.
Secondly, ligament constraint can case prolonged labor and lead to complications like a breech or posterior positioned baby. Basically, ligament constriction interferes with the proper positioning of the baby.
Anne: What is uterine constriction, I’ve heard chiropractors use that term?
Dr. Rodriquez: Uterine constraint can be described as when the tone of the ligaments that support the entire uterus are tight and restricted, preventing the proper and natural movement of the pelvis and uterus.
Anne: Thank you very much Dr. Rodriguez for sharing this wonderful information for our readers as I am sure many will benefit. ■
Dr. Billy Rodriguez and his lovely wife Alicia reside in Temecula, CA. Dr. Rodriguez is a Board
Certified Chiropractic Physician in the state of California. He is the owner and clinic director of Rodriguez Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Moreno Valley, CA. He is well qualified to work with the expectant mother, infants and children. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.rodriguezwellness.com
Ed note: Alicia delivered a healthy baby girl soon after this article was written. Because of chiropractic care, good nutrition, and exercise, Alicia’s labor lasted only a few hours.