Hormonal and physical adaptations to pregnancy may result in musculoskeletal discomforts. The pattern and perception of these disturbances may form the basis for the health-seeking behaviours adopted by the pregnant women.
To determine the pattern of, perception on, and biosocial risk factors to musculoskeletal discomfort among pregnant women in South Eastern Nigeria.
This is a cross-sectional, interviewer-administered questionnaire-based study of 115 pregnant women attending antenatal-care outreaches in South Eastern Nigeria.
One hundred and fifteen antenatal volunteers were interviewed, majority were traders (50.4%) and within the age bracket of 26-30 years (45.2%). Most were of parity 1-4 (68.7%) and predominantly of social class 3 (60.0%). Up to 85 (73.9%) of the respondent had heard of musculoskeletal discomfort (MSD) during pregnancy while 55.7% had experienced it in the index pregnancy, and 32% in the last pregnancy. The types of MSD experienced in the index pregnancy includes pelvic pain 45 (70.3%), leg pain 16 (25%), low back pain 15 (23.4%), and coccydynia 1 (1.6%). The major causes of discomfort were attributed to malnutrition (55.6%), strenuous activity (54.7%), big baby (35.7%), pregnancy hormones (21.8%), and too many pregnancies (18.2%). Thirty-three (28.7%) respondents attributed MSD complications to miscarriage and premature deliveries. Experience of MSD, measured as discomfort respondent ratio (DRR) was high at extremes of maternal age, and increased with increasing gestational age, parity and social class. A significantly large number 30 (46.9%) had no form of treatment for their discomfort, while a few others applied a wrong treatment like antibiotics 1 (1.6%) and herbal concoctions 1 (1.6%).
This study showed a higher level of awareness and experience of musculoskeletal discomfort amongst the respondents. There was however insufficient knowledge as to the causes, risk factors, treatment and possible complications among them. Pelvic pain, leg pain and low back pain were the most commonly observed musculoskeletal discomfort amongst the respondents.
Health workers and pregnant women should have adequate knowledge, information and education on the various types of musculoskeletal discomforts as well as their causes, management and treatment as part of a comprehensive pregnancy health education package.