Perceived pain and self-estimated activity limitations in women with back pain post-partum

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Background and PurposeIn the general population many daily activities have an impact on low back pain. The aim of the present study was to describe pain intensity, localization, type of sensation and perceived activity limitation in women with different back pain patterns post-partum.MethodIn this cross-sectional survey 119 women with back pain persisting for two months after having given birth were interviewed and examined on average 7.2 months (range 6–10 months) post-partum. Based on pain provocation tests, four different back pain pattern groups were identified. Pain could be provoked in the area of the posterior pelvic/sacroiliac joints, in the lumbar spine, both in the posterior pelvic/sacroiliac joints and in the lumbar spine, and in none of the above areas. All women rated pain intensity on a visual analogue scale (VAS, 0–100 mm), and the pain localization and type of sensation were indicated on a pain drawing. They scored their activity limitations by use of the Disability Rating Index (DRI), which covers 12 daily activity items (VAS, 0–100 mm).ResultsThere was no significant difference (p = 0.12) in pain intensity (range of medians 19.5–10 mm) between the four groups. However, on average, most areas in the lower back (median 5 mm (range 2–14 mm)), were marked in the group with pain in both the posterior pelvic/sacroiliac joints and in the lumbar spine. The women in the three groups where pain was provoked in the lower area of the back had significantly (p < 0.01) more difficulties with movement-related daily activities than the group where no pain could be provoked.ConclusionsThe findings of this descriptive study suggest that back pain post-partum provoked by clinical tests considerably hampers movement-related activities. It seems important to pay special attention to the women where pain could be provoked in the lower back areas. The women should be identified early in the post-partum period to initiate adequate treatment.

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