BACKGROUND: A substantial number of women tend to be affected by Lumbo Pelvic Pain (LPP) following child birth. Physical exercise is indicated as a beneficial method to relieve LPP, but individual studies appear to suggest mixed findings about its effectiveness. This systematic review aimed to synthesise evidence from randomised controlled trials on the effectiveness of exercise on LPP among postnatal women to inform policy, practice and future research.
METHODS: A systematic review was conducted of all randomised controlled trials published between January 1990 and July 2014, identified through a comprehensive search of following databases: PubMed, PEDro, Embase, Cinahl, Medline, SPORTDiscus, Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register, and electronic libraries of authors'institutions. Randomised controlled trials were eligible for inclusion if the intervention comprised of postnatal exercise for women with LPP onset during pregnancy or within 3 months after delivery and the outcome measures included changes in LPP. Selected articles were assessed using the PEDro Scale for methodological quality and findings were synthesised narratively as meta-analysis was found to be inappropriate due to heterogeneity among included studies.
RESULTS: Four randomised controlled trials were included, involving 251 postnatal women. Three trials were rated as of 'good' methodological quality. All trials, except one, were at low risk of bias. The trials included physical exercise programs with varying components, differing modes of delivery, follow up times and outcome measures. Intervention in one trial, involving physical therapy with specific stabilising exercises, proved to be effective in reducing LPP intensity. An improvement in gluteal pain on the right side was reported in another trial and a significant difference in pain frequency in another.
CONCLUSION: Our review indicates that only few randomised controlled trials have evaluated the effectiveness of exercise on LPP among postnatal women. There is also a great amount of variability across existing trials in the components of exercise programs, modes of delivery, follow up times and outcome measures. While there is some evidence to indicate the effectiveness of exercise for relieving LPP, further good quality trials are needed to ascertain the most effective elements of postnatal exercise programs suited for LPP treatment.