Researcher explores how to ease pregnancy-related back pain

The project aims to discover higher risk factors concerning back pain in an attempt to inform women on how to mitigate these factors and contribute to a more comfortable pregnancy.

Maggie Prain, Senior Midwifery Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery is leading the study, which will explore what contributes to pregnancy-related back pain and how the condition affects people’s lives.

A ‘normal’ part of pregnancy?

Up to 70% of women may experience back pain (Vleeminget al., 2008, Liddle and Pennick, 2015) at some point in their pregnancy. Each woman’s experience of pain is different and some report that the impact can affect their quality of life and affect daily living activities.

Some women experience from a specific type of pain called ‘pelvic girdle pain/dysfunction’, which is currently treated through physiotherapy services in the UK, however these only account for up to 22% of the pregnant population.

This leaves a majority percentage of women who live with back pain but may not have a treatment option available to them. Evidence also suggests there is a perception that back pain is an acceptable part of pregnancy and so women do not always seek help.

The study aims to confront these perceptions by allowing pregnant women to tell their stories, shedding light on their experiences and exploring why they don’t seek help to ease their back pain.

Call for participants

Maggie is currently recruiting pregnant women who are willing to take part in the study. Back pain is not a pre-requisite, as information about why some women do not experience pain is also an important outcome.

The study will follow participant journeys from 24 weeks of pregnancy up to 8 weeks after the birth, to see how these physical characteristics change during pregnancy and if there is any relationship between these and pain, disability or quality of life

Maggie will organise with participants to meet at BCU (City South Campus) to assess physical characteristics such as posture when sitting and moving, height, changes in size and shape of the body due to the growing baby, as well as to answer some questions on life style and quality of life. This usually takes about 30 minutes to gather the relevant information.

Participants must be categorised as having a low risk pregnancy and will have had the 20 week ultrasound scan (USS) identifying that everything is fine with the pregnancy.

Their contributions will then feed into a risk assessment tool, which will be shared with women and health care professionals such as midwives, obstetricians and physiotherapists to support women in easing back pain during their pregnancy.

If you have further questions or want to get involved, please email Maggie Prain and express your interest.

Take part in the study