Effectiveness of maternity support belts in reducing low back pain during pregnancy: a review

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Abstract

Aims.

This article aims to review the literature published to date on the types, current use, the biomechanical effects and adverse effects of maternity support belts for low back pain during pregnancy, to identify future research directions.

Background.

Lumbar/pelvic support belts are frequently recommended for the prevention and treatment of low back pain during pregnancy.

Design.

Systematic review.

Methods.

MEDLINE, CINAHL, the Cochrane Library and patents databases were electronically searched.

Results.

Maternity support belts belong to one of the four main types of maternity support garments, which are widely commercially-available. Current research showed limited evidence in support of the commercial maternity products regarding the effectiveness in the prevention and/or treatment of low back pain during pregnancy, other than that from the manufacturers. However, potential stabilisation effect of maternity support belt was demonstrated in some studies. Adverse effects reported include increased pain, fetal heart rate changes, skin irritation and discomfort.

Conclusions.

There is insufficient scientific evidence to conclude that wearing maternity support belts reduces pregnancy-related low back pain and/or pelvic girdle pain. Future research directions in the area of biomechanics and physiology are recommended.

Relevance to clinical practice.

This review provides comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of maternity support belts for the relief of low back pain during pregnancy which will facilitate healthcare professionals in providing evidence-based advice to their patients.

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