Scheuermann’s disease is an abnormal curvature and formation of the spine that usually affects children; however, sometimes the disease isn’t diagnosed until adulthood. When this happens, the adult is at an increased risk of damaged vertebrae because of the lengthy time the condition wasn’t treated. In my case, I was 28 when I was diagnosed with this condition. Since then, I have learned that my condition was aggravated when I broke my tailbone, causing more pain.
I have had several compression fractures in my spine–mostly during pregnancy. My doctor has advised me not to get pregnant anymore, but because of my faith, I don’t believe in using birth control. I am currently pregnant and once again, I am having problems with my spine. At only 8 weeks pregnant, I am already having to use a heating pad set on low for the majority of each day. Activities like feeding my newborn are causing me significant pain, but I do have ways that I can manage the pain and minimize the damage to my spine.
Maternity Support Belt
A maternity support belt is a lot like a back brace. As soon as my stomach starts to protrude, I start wearing the belt if I am going to be standing longer than 10 minutes. Since I am at the beginning of a pregnancy and I just had a baby in July, I already have a pooch, so I have already started to wear the belt.
Because of my spinal issues, I can’t exercise like I want to. Instead, I have to exercise for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and then take at least a 2 hour break before exercising again. The one exception to this is if I am swimming. I can handle swimming for about an hour before my back starts to hurt too bad to keep on. I still go to physical therapy twice a week and do my physical therapy exercises daily, but these don’t count toward my exercise time.
Labor and Delivery
Luckily, my Scheuermann’s disease isn’t severe enough to prevent me from having a spinal or epidural when I go into labor. Because of the way my spine curves, and the fact that my uterus tilts toward the back, I always experience severe back pain, or back labor. I also sit on an exercise ball when I am in labor to help control the pain. Rocking on the ball helps and doesn’t put any added pressure on my spine. Of course, once I have the epidural, this isn’t an option, but I do use the ball up until it is time for the epidural.
The only thing that is different for me than other women who are delivering a child is that I don’t have the option to squat or get on my hands and knees to push. I have to lay on my back or my side so that there isn’t a lot of pressure on my spine.
I am currently in my 7th pregnancy (2nd pregnancy since I was diagnosed with Scheuermann’s disease). Despite the fact that my doctor advises me not to have children because of my condition, I haven’t experienced any complications except for back labor and severe back pain during pregnancy. These, however, are manageable with some planning.