My two sisters have had five pregnancies between them. They are always complaining about back pain. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in three other countries, I never heard the women complain of back pain. Are we just spoiled Americans quick to complain about the slightest ache and pain? I'm having trouble feeling any sympathy for my siblings.

Don't be too quick to throw the towel in on your sisters. Many studies in the United States and abroad agree on one thing: low back pain is very common in pregnant women everwhere. And those women will tell you it's darn uncomfortable and even disabling.

How do we account for this phenomenon? There doesn't appear to be one individual factor linked with low back pain in pregnancy. Instead, it's likely there are multiple risk factors that increase a woman's chances for developing low back pain during pregnancy. And some women never recover fully but continue experiencing back pain well past their pregnancies.

The most common risk factors include: 1) multiparity (multiple pregnancies), 2) obesity and inactivity, 3) previous history of low back pain during previous pregnancies or any other time, and 4) perception of poor health.

In a recent study of over 1,000 Iranian women, living in a city (urban life) and not having any help with the daily workload of motherhood added additional risk. As the old expression goes, Many hand make light work. Any help or assistance family members and friends can offer pregnant women may in fact reduce the likelihood of low back pain. Perhaps it's true that it takes a village to raise (or maybe give birth to) a child.

Mohammad A. Mohseni-Bandpei, PhD, et al. Low Back Pain in 1,100 Iranian Pregnant Women: Prevalence and Risk Factors. In The Spine Journal. October 2009. Vol. 9. No. 10. Pp.795-801.

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