Background and purpose: Low back pain (LBP) is a common and costly problem during pregnancy and assumes to be a part of normal pregnancy caused by normal physiological changes. Pregnancy-related LBP is one of the main reasons for disability, absence from work and responsible for huge direct and indirect economical impact. This article Systematically reviews papers concerning the epidemiology and risk factors on LBP in pregnant women.
Materials and methods: MEDLINE, CINAHL, Rose-Net, OVID, and BIDS were searched for the period of 1985-2003, using the key words 'low back pain', 'epidemiology', 'pregnancy', 'risk factors'. In addition, references given in relevant publications were used.
Results: Eighteen studies were identified. Eleven studies investigated epidemiology of LBP during pregnancy and the prevalence were reported >50% in 8 (73%) studies. Ten studies were carried out on the epidemiology of LBP after pregnancy. The prevalence of LBP were reported >40% in 6 (60%) studies. Among different reported risk factors, previous LBP as well as younger age were the most important risk factors.
Conclusion: Although there were some methodological flaws (e.g., small sample size of the study population, lack of clear classification and definition for LBP, different study design, different methods of study implementation, etc.) which precludes strong conclusion, it appears that LBP is one of the most common problem, during pregnancy and after delivery. It should also be noted that education and certain exercises can be beneficial to the pregnant women in the absence of medical complications.