In this study, certain motions that were related to LBP in pregnant women were investigated by free descriptive answers from early pregnancy to late pregnancy. As the main result, 16 kinds of motions, especially sitting up, standing up from a chair, and tossing and turning, were mentioned by many pregnant women. Additionally, it was revealed that standing up from a chair, tossing and turning, lying down, and sitting up were related to the intensity of LBP significantly.
According to the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, BADL was defined as activities that cover domains such as dressing, eating, mobility, using the toilet, and hygiene . In this study, seven motions such as crouching, lying down, sitting up, standing up from a chair, tossing and turning, and walking were thought to be a part of BADL. Therefore, pregnant women mainly think that daily motions, especially motions that are a part of BADL, are related to LBP. In general, special tasks such as lifting heavy objects and running were identified as the risk factors of LBP during pregnancy . However, Close et al. reported that pregnant women reported that daily activities, such as walking, were disturbed due to LBP in a prospective study using qualitative design . Their results along with those of this study establish that pregnant women have troubles with daily routine activities rather than special motions that require extra task or effort due to LBP. In other words, pregnant women have difficulty in BADL that are essential in daily life because of LBP. BADL includes the fundamental activities of the activities of daily living. The result that BADL is related to LBP during pregnancy indicates that the elementary part in the daily lives of pregnant women might be restricted. Thus, LBP during pregnancy needs to be addressed. Furthermore, the proportion of women who did not think that particular movements were related to LBP increased as their pregnancies progressed. In other words, the assiciation of motions with LBP might be increased in late pregnancy. Moreover, the intensity of pain also had a tendency to increase as previously reported . Thus, the demand for pain management may increase as pregnancy progresses. A pregnancy-specific self-report questionnaire assessing mobility in relation to LPP called the Pregnancy Mobility Index was suggested recently . However, it contains motions that these women seem not to do, such as traveling by bicycle. Thus, the questionnaire might be suitable to assess the effect of LPP on the quality of life; however, the items do not represent the motions that reflect real opinions of pregnant women. That is to say, some of these items might not serve the purpose of asking pregnant women about motions related to LPP because they rarely perform these activities in the first place. On the contrary, the results of this study reflect the opinions of pregnant women and include only the motions that they do perform. Thus, the results provide useful information in understanding what motions might be associated with LBP during pregnancy. The motion that is indispensable in daily life such as BADL, rather than heavy load motions that are thought to be risk factors of LBP, should be investigated for the management of LBP during pregnancy.
In all motions, pregnant women feel LBP especially during sitting up, standing up from a chair, and tossing and turning throughout the pregnancy. Hence, these motions might be strongly correlated with the occurrence of LBP. Furthermore, the previous episodes of LBP before pregnancy and BMI at each periods were considered in the analysis as a risk factor of LBP during pregnancy. There are many factors that may affect LBP during pregnancy and all of them were not considered in this study, unfortunately. However, the result of the analysis after considering the presence of LBP before the pregnancy and BMI is meaningful because these episodes are an important risk factor of LBP [1, 28]. Therefore, it can be thought that these motions have a substantial effect on LBP of the participants after adjustment for LBP before pregnancy and BMI. The motions that were significantly related to LBP according to the results of linear regression analysis, such as standing up from a chair and tossing and turning, are those that commonly need rotation and extension/flexion of the trunk. These trunk motions might be related to LBP throughout the pregnancy. Gilleard et al. reported the change in postural alignment of the thoracolumbar spine in sitting position as pregnancy progresses . Furthermore, changes in the range of motion of the trunk during sitting and standing were observed in pregnancy . Considering these results, the changes in postural alignment during pregnancy might cause changes in movements and cause strain on body segments, which subsequently contribute to musculoskeletal pain during standing up from a chair. Therefore, further studies are needed in order to understand the association between specific motions and LBP during pregnancy. Simultaneously, there is a need for guidelines for these motions, similar to the guidelines regarding occupational weight bearing in pregnancy, to reduce the risk of overexertion disorder . Additionally, the motion of lying down usually includes rotation of the trunk and rotation of the vertebrae. It is believed that axial trunk rotation is related to LBP and improved coordinated trunk movements would be of help in patients with LBP [32, 33]. Furthermore, the trunk needs to be supported while lying down. The stabilizing of the spine itself causes some strain to the soft tissues of the trunk, such as muscles, and lead to LBP . Therefore, lying down might contribute to LBP. In contrast, changes in body position between lying down and standing positions, such as sitting up and lying down, contributed to LBP during only 24 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. A balance between the changes in body weight and gravity begins in this period and pregnant women cannot manage the changes or take large loads on the body during changing of positions . However, the risk factors between particular motions and LBP could not be identified in this study. Simultaneously, R2 values of the regression models ranged from 0.331 to 0.479 in this study. These values indicates the regression line did not fit the real data points perfectly. In other words, the results of the analysis could not sufficiently explain the factors related to LBP during pregnancy. One of the reasons for this is that the factors added in the analysis and the number of participants were not enough. Furthermore, it is possible that variables other than those included in the regression model accounted for a large degree of the variance in LBP intensity. Various risk factors are thought to be related to LBP during pregnancy [1, 4], and the study included sufficient information and participants to determine the factors related to LBP during pregnancy is needed. Moreover, there are many other factors that are related to daily motions and involved in LBP. For example, awkward posture by the same posture for a long time affect various daily activities and LBP . Of those various factors, we focused on motions that are related to LBP and can be managed by physical modalities with proper exercise techniques and movement coaching. A more detailed investigation that focuses on characteristics of load on body in these motions, especially taken with regards to other backgrounds, such as daily movements and body condition will make the current results more rewarding.
There were several limitations of this study. First, we investigated the motions related to LBP by free descriptive answers, rather than via validated selection type questionnaire. Thus, the response rate to the question about motion that the participants thought induced LBP was low, between 44.0% and 68.9% at various investigation periods. It can be thought that this is because the remaining participants did not think that any particular motion induces pain and some participants might not remember a particular motion that was related to LBP. Due to this, the possibility that other motions or postures are related to LBP cannot be denied. However, despite the limitation, the opinions of pregnant women on what motions cause LBP were demonstrated without restrictions or preconditions in this study. Second, we did not evaluate other factors that may affect pregnancy-related LBP, such as the level of pregnancy-related hormones, muscular strength, or physical flexibility. Additionally, the detailed mechanism of how particular motions were related to LBP was not revealed. Simultaneously, the longitudinal comparison was difficult in this study because the participants at the four time points were not the same. Owing to these reasons, although we could clarify the main purpose of this study—identify the motions that are strongly related to LBP and need to be investigated in the future—the causal relation between motions and LBP was not revealed. Hence, further research with pregnant women who do not have LBP as controls is required by conducting interventions or observations to evaluate if all pregnant women perform the same movements in the same way, and frequency, and/or by longitudinal study design to investigate the causal relation and other intermediate factors for LBP during pregnancy.