Background: Common prenatal ailments negatively impact performance of activities of daily living and it has been proposed that the use of dynamic elastomeric fabric orthoses, more commonly referred to as compression garments, during pregnancy might aid in the reduction of pain from these ailments, allowing for improved functional capacity. However, the effectiveness of such garments in this context has not been established. This study aims to determine whether compression shorts are effective and thermally safe in the prevention and management of prenatal pelvic and low back pain (LBP).
Method: A prospective quasi-experimental controlled study using parallel groups without random allocation was conducted, involving 55 childbearing women (gestational weeks 16-31) recruited from hospital and community-based maternity care providers. The compression shorts group (SG) wore SRC Pregnancy Shorts in addition to receiving usual care. The comparison group (CG) received usual care alone. Primary outcome measures-Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) and Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and secondary measures Pelvic Floor Impact Questionnaire - 7 (PFIQ-7) and SF-36 Short Form Health Survey-were assessed fortnightly over 6-weeks for both groups. The compression SG self-assessed daily their body temperatures to monitor thermal impact. Data analysis involved descriptive analyses of the primary and secondary outcome measures scores by group and time-point, and multivariable linear regressions to assess between-group differences in change scores at 6-weeks from baseline while controlling for baseline factors.
Results: After controlling for baseline scores, gestational weeks and parity, statistically significant differences in NPRS and RMDQ change scores between groups were in favour of the compression SG. At 6-weeks, mean (SD) NPRS change scores in the compression SG and CG were significantly different, at -0.38 (2.21) and 2.82 (2.68), respectively, p = 0.003. Mean (SD) RMDQ change scores in the compression SG and CG were also significantly different, at 0.46 (3.05) and 3.64 (3.32), respectively, p = 0.009. A total of 883 (99.7%) of the reported daily self-assessed body temperatures ranged between 35.4 and 38.0 °C when wearing the compression shorts. At 6-weeks, mean (SD) PFIQ-7 and SF-36 change scores in the compression SG and CG were not significantly different.
Conclusion: Compression shorts are effective and thermally safe for prenatal management of pelvic and LBP.
Registration: Trial registration was not required (Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), 2018).