Back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy and it is often considered as part of the pregnancy process. The effect of back pain and its impact on a woman’s quality of life should not be underestimated.
Many women experience difficulties doing the housework, child bearing, job performance and emotional distress because of back pain. Despite growing recognition of the significance of back pain during pregnancy, its mechanism remains poorly understood and more support it needed for expecting mothers.
In a study from the journal Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, the authors investigated the prevalence of back pain in pregnant women, risk factors and its impact on the quality of life in pregnant women in Malaysia.
There are multiple factors associated with back pain during pregnancy, which include history of previous back pain, age, the number of children a woman has had, physical activity and body mass index (BMI).
To date, there is a lack of data regarding the prevalence of this problem in Malaysia. Due to this, the authors embarked on the study to determine the prevalence, risk factors and its impact on quality of life in pregnant women. All pregnant women over 18 years old who attended the antenatal clinic at UKMMC were invited to participate in the study.
A Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was used to assess the severity of back pain and the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire (ODQ) was used to assess its impact to the quality of life.
Over 80% of expecting mothers experienced back pain
The prevalence of back pain in pregnancy was as high as 84.6%. The majority of the women experienced lumbar pain, as well as posterior pelvic pain. Among nearly half of the women, the pain occurred commonly at the second trimester, followed by the third trimester and lastly the first trimester.
History of pain plays a part
A woman’s occupation and previous history of back pain were associated with back pain in pregnancy. The results showed that the more severe the pain, the greater their functional limitation and disability. As a result of back pain, personal care, sitting, standing, the women’s sex and social life were significantly affected when they experienced pain whilst pregnant.
In conclusion, the researchers established that the prevalence of back pain in pregnancy was high. The highest risk factors were the woman’s type of occupation and her history of back pain.