Low Back Pain During Pregnancy: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Outcomes

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To estimate the severity of the low back pain (LBP) during pregnancy, including prevalence, risk factors, impact on daily living, and health provider management.

METHODS:

An anonymous survey consisting of 36 questions was distributed to pregnant women participating in various prenatal care clinics and educational classes in New Haven County, Connecticut. A total of 950 surveys was returned from May 2002 through October 2003. At each site, a researcher was available each week to answer questions and gather surveys.

RESULTS:

Six hundred forty-five (68.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 65–72%) respondents reported experiencing LBP during their current pregnancy. The prevalence was not affected by gestational age (P = .56). Low back pain during the current pregnancy was predicted by age (younger women were more likely to develop it; P = .004), history of LBP without pregnancy (P = .002), during menstruation (P = .01), and during a previous pregnancy (P = .002). The majority of respondents reported that LBP during pregnancy caused sleep disturbances (58%; 95% CI 54–62%) and impaired daily living (57%; 95% CI 53–62%). Average pain was moderate in severity. Nearly 30% of respondents stopped performing at least one daily activity because of pain and reported that pain also impaired the performance of other routine tasks. Only 32% (95% CI 28–36%) of the respondents with LBP during pregnancy informed their prenatal care providers of this problem, and only 25% (95% CI 21–28%) of prenatal care providers recommended a treatment.

CONCLUSION:

Low back pain during pregnancy is a common problem that causes hardship in this population. Further studies are indicated in the areas of prevention and treatment.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

III

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