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Current Analysis of Women Athletes with Pelvic Pain


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 8 - p 1387-1393
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31821005a0
Clinical Sciences

Background and Methods: Accurate diagnosis and effective management of pelvic pain in women have become more challenging now that the number of women athletes and the number of diagnostic possibilities are increasing. We conducted a prospective study of women athletes with pelvic pain seen during a 2-yr period within a large well-defined clinical practice to clarify some of the current causes and treatment possibilities.

Results: One hundred fourteen females, 14% of the total male/female cohort, were referred for treatment of suspected musculoskeletal injury. On the basis of history and physical and radiological examinations, 74 (64.9% of females) turned out to have injuries of the hip (group A) and/or soft tissues surrounding the hip (group B), and 40 (35.1%) had other sometimes more threatening diagnoses. In groups A and B, 40 (90.1%) of 44 patients who chose surgery achieved previous performance levels within 1 yr compared with only 4 (13.8%) of 29 who did not have surgery. Factors such as sport type, competitive status, and age did not affect the outcomes. Most diagnoses in group C, e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and malignancy, usually eclipsed the potential musculoskeletal diagnoses in terms of long-term importance.

Conclusions: In this series of patients, most pelvic pain in women athletes was identifiable and treatable. Most had benign musculoskeletal causes, and surgery played an important role in treatment of those causes. Still, we found a large number of other causes that required longer specialized care. Health care professionals seeing such patients need to be alert to the new concepts of pelvic injury and the various roles for surgery and the broad list of other considerations.

1Department of Surgery, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA; and 2Department of Radiology, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

Address for correspondence: William C. Meyers, M.D., 245 N. Broad St., New College Building Suite 7150, Philadelphia, PA 19102; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2010.

Accepted for publication January 2011.

©2011The American College of Sports Medicine