An original study involved 369 women: 184 were randomised to receive an epidural and 185 were randomised to other forms of pain relief. All these women were then invited to participate in a follow up study (151 from the epidural group and 155 from the non-epidural group agreed to participate).
Self reported low back pain, disability, and limitation of movement were assessed through interviews with a physiotherapist or a questionnaire. Physical measurements of spinal mobility were also used.
The team found no significant differences in any of the measurements of mobility. There were also no differences in responses to questions about everyday tasks that may be more difficult in the presence of low back pain.
The authors conclude: "After childbirth there are no differences in the incidence of long term low back pain, disability, or movement restriction between women who receive epidural pain relief and women who receive other forms of pain relief."