Despite the high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain during pregnancy, few women in underserved populations receive treatment for their low back pain, according to a February 2007 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT).
Moreover, researchers found that pain in a previous pregnancy may predict a high risk for musculoskeletal complaints in future pregnancies.
According to Clayton Skaggs, DC, the study?s chief author, 85 percent of women surveyed reported that they had not received treatment for their musculoskeletal pain, and of the small percentage who perceived that their back complaints were addressed, less than 10 percent were satisfied with the symptom relief they obtained.
“Based on the findings of this study, doctors of chiropractic and other health care professionals need to expand the musculoskeletal care available during pregnancy, especially in underserved populations,” Dr. Skaggs said. “As a proactive step, health professionals should consider including back pain screening as part of early obstetrical care to help identify musculoskeletal risk factors and allow for early education and/or treatment.”
Researchers surveyed more than 600 women at a clinic that serves predominantly an uninsured, underinsured or Medicaid-insured population. Surveys were offered to all obstetrical patients and were designed to collect information about pregnancy-related pain and quality of life issues. Of those women who responded to the survey, two-thirds reported back pain and nearly half of all women reported pain at two or more locations, including pelvic pain and mid-back pain.
The study findings suggest that pregnant women with back pain are predisposed to sleep disturbances. In the survey, close to 80 percent of women reporting sleep disturbances had back pain, whereas only 8 percent of women without pain reported problems sleeping. More alarming was the significant relationship between reports of musculoskeletal pain and the use of pain medication. Three-fourths of the women who reported pain also described use of pain medication.
“We saw a direct association between sleep deficiency and back pain,” the authors said. “These results raise the question of whether or not the high incidence of pain medication use reflects a lack of education about potential risks of medications or more an inability for the pregnant women to cope with the pain.”
The study?s authors also found a relationship between pain in a previous pregnancy and pain in the current pregnancy. Similar to the results of other studies, researchers found that 85 percent of women who experienced pain in a previous pregnancy reported pain during their current pregnancy.