The location of pregnancy back pain predicts postpartum pain

July 15, 2008

Women who experience both pelvic girdle pain and lumbar pain during pregnancy are more likely to have persistent pain postpartum, researchers report in the May 20 issue of Spine.

Women who experience both pelvic girdle pain and lumbar pain during pregnancy are more likely to have persistent pain postpartum, researchers report in the May 20 issue of Spine.

Annelie Gutke, PhD, from Linkoping University in Sweden, and colleagues classified the subtype of lower back pain in 308 pregnant women (no lower back pain, pelvic girdle pain, lumbar pain, or combined pelvic girdle pain and lumbar pain) at 12 to 18 weeks' gestation and its ability to predict pain 3 months' postpartum.

The researchers found that only 33% of women with combined pain recovered, compared with 66% of women with pelvic girdle pain only and 72% of women with lumbar pain only. Women who were older, had low endurance of back flexors, had combined pain in early pregnancy, or had work dissatisfaction were more likely to have persistent pelvic girdle pain or combined pain after delivery.

"Women with combined pain were identified to be a target group since they had the most unfavorable course and since the classification of combined pain was found to be a predictor for persistent pain postpartum. Identification of women at risk for persistent pain postpartum seems possible in early pregnancy and requires physical examination and self-reports," Gutke and colleagues conclude.

Gutke A, Ostgaard HC, Oberg B. Predicting persistent pregnancy-related low back pain. Spine. 2008;33:E386-E393.