The research project

Eighty percent of women of childbearing age will experience back pain and disorder.

For many women, it will happen as a seemingly spontaneous event that takes time to resolve, for others the problem starts early in pregnancy or postpartum and can mean a life-long relationship with pain and disorder.

Universally, women of childbearing age are the population group most commonly effected by back pain and disorder. Diagnosing and treating back disorder is a huge industry but regardless of the hi-tech diagnostics, diversity of treatments and past research the problem hasn’t been resolved.

Back pain in women is still so common that it’s frequently taken for granted and often believed to be more an expression of emotion than an experience of pain.

What we know – beyond doubt – is that certain childcare equipment and tasks cause a higher than normal risk of lower back injury. We also know that elevated hormone levels are associated with joint laxity and knee and ankle injuries in sports women.

What we don’t know is whether elevated hormone levels increase the laxity of spinal joints in women. If so, does the combination of spinal joint laxity, and the awkward manual handling and poorly designed equipment in childcare work create a super risk of lower back dysfunction, disorder and pain for the women involved?

The Women, Hormones & Back Pain Study is the first investigation quantifying the relationship between reproductive hormones, lower back function and lower back pain in women.

The study will help to understand, diagnose and to some degree prevent the significant problem of non-specific back disorder in women! This research has very real relevance to the way we think about back pain in pregnancy; the manual handling work involved in child-caring; and the implications of back pain and disorder for women in the work place. The outcome of this study will provide immediate and positive action for women working with young children, and direction for work place manual handling in general.