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Prognostic factors for recovery from postpartum pelvic girdle pain

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Abstract

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) has a high incidence during pregnancy and in some women pain will persist for years. Most studies have used pain as the outcome measure, and little attention is given to functioning or disability. A better understanding of prognostic factors for recovery seems important for clinical care and treatment. The aim of the present paper was to identify prognostic factors for recovery from postpartum PGP and disability, and to determine the impacts of prognostic factors when pain intensity and disability are used as outcome measures. Seventy-eight women with diagnosed PGP were included 6–16 weeks postpartum. Possible prognostic factors were obtained through clinical tests and questionnaires at baseline. The clinical tests were posterior pelvic pain provocation (P4) test, active straight leg raise (ASLR) test and pain provocation of long dorsal sacroiliac ligament (LDL). One year postpartum outcome measures were obtained by Oswestry disability index (ODI ver 2.0) and worst evening pain (VAS 0–100). Multiple linear regression and logistic regression analyses were used to identify significant prognostic factors. At baseline 60% believed they would recover and 40% were uncertain or believed they would not recover. Fifty per cent had a history of low back pain (LBP), and 20% had high emotional distress (HSCL25-item ≥1.75). About 75% had positive LDL and P4 at both sides and 24% had pain located to all three pelvic joints. Forty per cent had ASLR scores of at least 4 (sum score range 0–10). Multivariate analyses showed consistently that ASLR and belief in improvement were statistical significant predictors for both disability and pain as outcome measures. ASLR score <4 predicted 10 points lower ODI and 19 points lower evening pain compared with having ASLR score of at least 4. Pain location was a statistical significant predictor in only one analysis. History of LBP or high psychological distress was not prognostic for recovery. ASLR test and belief in improvement are predictors of clinical significance in women having PGP postpartum.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation and the Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association for financial support to the study. The study complies with the current laws and requirements of medical research in Norway and has been approved by the regional ethics committee.

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Correspondence to Nina K. Vøllestad.

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Vøllestad, N.K., Stuge, B. Prognostic factors for recovery from postpartum pelvic girdle pain. Eur Spine J 18, 718–726 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-009-0911-2

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