Objective: To determine the prevalence of low back pain during pregnancy (LBPP) in an Australian population.
Design: A representative population-based survey of women aged 15 years and older.
Setting and sample: Four thousand four hundred randomly selected South Australian households were visited by trained surveyors who interviewed 1531 women (69.7% response rate) using pre-tested questions.
Methods: The South Australian Health Omnibus survey was utilised.
Main outcome measures: Demographic data were collected along with details of previous pregnancies, and degree of back pain during pregnancy treatment regimens, and persistence of back pain.
Results: Thirty-five and a half per cent of women recall having at least moderately severe back pain during pregnancy. Women who reported such back pain were younger, were more likely to report ill health and be unemployed. Increasing parity was not associated with current back pain. The most commonly used treatments were bed rest, pain killing medication, physiotherapy, and chiropractic treatment. Half of those with symptoms were untreated. Sixty-eight per cent of women who experienced moderate or worse low back pain during pregnancy continued to experience recurring low back pain with a self reported reduction in their health.
Conclusions: Chronic low back pain is commonly associated with an onset in pregnancy subjectively contributing to long-term morbidity The high prevalence may be an underestimate in view of the potential for recall bias in older women.