Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancy

VE Pennick and G Young

Many women experience back or pelvic pain during pregnancy. This pain generally increases as pregnancy advances and it interferes with daily activities (like carrying, cleaning, sitting and walking), can prevent women going to work and sometimes disturbs sleep. Suggestions to help manage the pain are varied and include special pregnancy exercises, frequent rest, hot and cold compresses, a supportive belt, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbs, yoga and Reiki. Sometimes drugs like acetaminophen have also been suggested. No studies were found dealing with the prevention of back and pelvic pain. For treatment, the review of trials found eight studies, involving 1305 participants, that examined the effects of various pregnancy-specific exercises, physiotherapy programs, acupuncture and using special pillows added to usual prenatal care. They were compared to usual pregnancy care or other treatments. The quality of the studies was not the best, and so the findings should be treated with caution. The review found that specifically tailored strengthening exercise, sitting pelvic tilt exercise programs and water gymnastics all reported beneficial effects. The Ozzlo pillow seemed to be effective but is no longer available. In addition, acupuncture seemed more effective than physiotherapy. Adverse effects, when reported, appeared minor and transient.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007 Issue 2

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